The Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office will lead an independent investigation into the death of 44-year-old Kari Lynn Stephanishen. Lemhi County Prosecutor Paul Withers called it standard procedure to have all incidents involving local law enforcement officers thoroughly and independently reviewed by an outside agency.
Stephanishen was found unconscious in the back seat of a Lemhi County patrol car on Oct. 31. According to Lemhi County Sheriff’s office reports, she had been put into custody on a drug possession charge and used a seat belt to harm herself. However, Stephanishen’s family said things just didn’t add up, especially since they said she was handcuffed at the time.
She died at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center shortly thereafter.
Lemhi County Prosecutor Paul Withers received the final report of an Idaho State Police investigation on Friday. He said the Bonneville County investigation will review all findings to determine if the involved deputies and officer acted appropriately.
“This is a traumatic event for the family of Kari Lynn Stephanishen, the officers involved in this incident and members of our community,” said Withers. “Our thoughts and prayers are with each person affected.”
Results of the ISP investigation will not be released until the new investigation is complete.