POCATELLO — Bannock County officials have released all of the investigative documents and video regarding the fracas last month at the courthouse that resulted in Pocatello City Councilwoman-elect Christine Stevens being kicked out of the building.
The materials, which were obtained on Thursday after the Journal filed a public records request on Nov. 25, do not do much to quell the conflicting statements about the incident that Stevens and the Bannock County Commission publicly released after the Nov. 20 confrontation. The video provided to the Journal was from a camera located in the hall outside of the Bannock County Commission offices. It does not include audio and only shows Stevens entering and leaving the building.
The incident reports from the four court marshals who responded to the confrontation do not contain any account of what may have transpired inside the Commission offices before they were summoned and the only witness statements included in the report are from Stevens, the individual who accompanied her during the visit — retired Fish and Game fishery manager Mike Larkin — and Kristi Davenport, the Commissioner’s Office staff member whom Stevens interacted with when she initially arrived.
According to Bannock County Commissioner Terrel “Ned” Tovey, the Nov. 20 incident involved Stevens berating and belittling Commission staff members to the point one staffer was in tears and only ended when four armed court marshals were summoned to escort Stevens from the building.
On Nov. 27, the Bannock County Commission released a lengthy press release that included a first-hand account from one unnamed Commissioners’ Office staff member who witnessed the incident.
Initially, the Bannock County Commissioner’s Office declined to name the staff member quoted in the commission’s press release, citing social media backlash the commissioners and the Commissioner’s Office staff members endured following the incident as the reason.
The investigative materials provided to the Journal on Thursday included a statement from Davenport that supported Tovey’s account of what transpired on Nov. 20. The statement from Davenport included in the investigative materials was identical to the comments from the unnamed staff member included in the Nov. 27 press release.
Stevens contends that she entered the Commissioners’ Office on Nov. 20 to speak to the County Commission about a report she and Larkin submitted to the office in July that identified more than 40 public access roads with access to public lands within the county that have been gated or otherwise closed. Furthermore, Stevens says that when she began questioning the capabilities of the County Commission and its staff, it was Tovey who began screaming and shaking his finger in her face while standing less than a foot away from her.
The statements from Stevens and Larkin included in the investigative report buttress what Stevens and Larkin have already publicly said following the incident.
Though the dispute did not turn physical, both Stevens and Tovey accused one another of being unprofessional, rude and intimidating during the commissioners’ office brouhaha.
In response to the public records being provided to the Journal, Tovey declined to comment further on the Nov. 20 incident, other than to say, “I consider the matter closed.”
Stevens, in response to the investigative materials being released, said, “I am very clear about what occurred and have consistently reported the facts. Beyond that, I moved on some time ago and continue to work on the community issues that are important to me.”
Though the video provided to the Journal does not contain audio of the incident, it doesn’t appear that the confrontation inside the Commissioner’s Office was wildly out of control as both Stevens and Tovey have asserted.
The video, captured by Bannock County Courthouse surveillance cameras, shows three men working in the hallway just outside of the Commissioner’s Office door, and not once did any of the men look over at the office or away from their work. Furthermore, several individuals walk through the county security office, into the courthouse and past the Commissioner’s Office without pausing or looking over into the office.
According to the video, Stevens spent approximately three minutes inside the Commissioner’s Office before Tovey is seen leaving the office to personally summon a court marshal to have Stevens removed. About 30 seconds later, the first court marshal arrives to the Commissioner’s Office, and about 15 seconds later another four marshals arrive. Six minutes after Stevens walks inside the Commissioners Office, she is seen leaving the courthouse with several marshals in tow.
While Stevens continues to converse with two court marshals from outside of the courthouse, Tovey briefly watches from the doorway leading into the Commissioner’s Office, the video shows.
Aside from one court marshal stating two county employees were in the hallway a few feet down from the Commissioner’s Office when the Nov. 20 incident occurred and did not hear or see anything out of the ordinary, the reports from the court marshals do not shed more light on the incident.
The statements from Davenport, Larkin and Stevens reiterate much of what each individual has already stated publicly during press conferences or news releases following the incident.
The Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office told the Journal on Thursday that it considers the matter closed as neither Stevens nor the Bannock County Commission and its staff intend to pursue criminal charges of any sort against the other party.