Several family members of an Idaho rancher shot to death by law enforcement officers in 2015 have filed a wrongful death lawsuit over the killing.
Rancher Jack Yantis had been called to euthanize a bull that had been hit by a car when he was shot 12 times by two deputies from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.
Last year, the Idaho Attorney General’s Office decided against pursuing criminal charges against the two officers, Cody Roland and Brian Wood, citing conflicting witness accounts about the incident.
After his bull was injured by a car on the evening of Nov. 1, 2015, Yantis arrived at the scene with a rifle after being notified of the collision by police dispatchers.
Yantis’ wife, Donna, and nephew, Rowdy Paradis, claim the rancher was preparing to shoot the bull in the head when one of the deputies grabbed him and then both deputies opened fire.
According to their account, Yantis was pointing his rifle in a direction that didn’t endanger anyone.
The two deputies, on the other hand, said the trajectory of his rifle threatened the safety of people near the scene, which prompted them to issue commands such as, “Whoa, whoa, stop, hang on,” and, “We’re not doing this.”
According to their version, Yantis swung and fired his gun, causing them to discharge their weapons.
While there were other witnesses at the scene, Idaho’s Attorney General found their accounts “provide little, if any, clarity regarding the interaction.”
Donna Yantis and her two daughters Sarah and Lauretta have joined with Paradis to file a federal complaint against Adams County, its sheriff’s office, Sheriff Ryan Zollman, the two deputies and unnamed people involved in the incident.
Their lawsuit alleges livestock are routinely euthanized with firearms by their owners after being injured by vehicles in Idaho, so the situation encountered by the deputies was “highly foreseeable” and it would be unreasonable to fear for their safety.
According to the allegations, both deputies were hired by Adams County despite being unfit to serve in law enforcement.
While working for another county, deputy Cody Roland was reprimanded for “conduct unbecoming an officer” in 2008, was found to have a “sexual relationship with a woman who was known to be providing confidential information to criminals” in 2010, and was determined to have mischaracterized his military service in 2011, the complaint alleged.
The complaint alleges that deputy Brian Wood had an “unhealthy obsession” with firearms, explosives, had used excessive force against an elderly man while working for a city police department and was ultimately fired for poaching an elk in 2011.
The lawsuit seeks damages in an amount to be proven at trial, as well as attorney fees. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office referred a request for comment to Sheriff Ryan Zollman, who hadn’t responded as of press time.