Yantis’ neighbor: Death investigation outcome disappointing

Sean Ellis/Capital Press Supporters of Jack Yantis, the Council, Idaho, rancher shot and killed by sheriff's deputies in November, demand justice for him May 20 in front of the Idaho attorney general's office in the state Capitol.

A federal judge in Idaho has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the family of Adams County rancher Jack Yantis, who was shot and killed by deputy sheriffs at his ranch on Nov. 1, 2015.

The lawsuit was filed by Yantis’ wife, daughters and nephew in October 2017, alleging Deputy Sheriffs Cody Roland and Brian Wood used unwarranted deadly force that resulted in Yantis’ death.

U.S. District Judge David C. Nye in Boise signed the order for a stipulated dismissal of the lawsuit on Nov. 20. No details on any settlements were available.

Phone calls by Capital Press to attorneys on both sides of the case have not yet been returned.

The incident occurred near the rural town of Council when Yantis and the deputies responded to a report that a bull owned by Yantis had been struck and injured by a car on Highway 95. The lawsuit alleged the Yantis family was called at about 7 p.m. by a county dispatcher and asked to put down the bull.

Yantis and his wife, Donna, nephew Rowdy Paradis and a family friend, veterinarian Joe Rumsey, were having dinner at the ranch house at the time. They all went to the location of the bull near the ranch’s driveway, according to court records.

Yantis was about 2 feet from the bull with his rifle ready to euthanize the bull when one deputy grabbed him and jerked him backward. Without warning, the deputies drew their weapons and shot at least 14 times, hitting Yantis 12 times, the lawsuit alleged.

The deputies, however, said they were concerned about the safety of bystanders and issued verbal commands for Yantis to not fire his weapon. The deputies also contend Yantis swung around and fired at them and they returned fire, according to an investigation report by the Idaho State Police.

The investigation found shell casings at the scene that indicate the officers fired 20 shots. It also found a spent shell casing in Yantis’ rifle and a bullet at the scene that could have come from Yantis’ rifle.

The family alleges in the lawsuit that Yantis’ rifle inadvertently discharged either when the one deputy manhandled Yantis or when the deputies started shooting him.

In 2016, the Idaho Attorney General’s office declined to file any criminal charges against the deputies, saying conflicting witness accounts create sufficient doubt that would prevent a jury from holding anyone criminally responsible.

In addition to the treatment and death of Yantis, the lawsuit also alleged the deputies assaulted Yantis’ wife, who suffered a heart attack at the scene, and his nephew. It also alleged false imprisonment at the scene and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional stress on the family.

In addition, it alleged the deputies were untrained and unfit to serve as police officers and included the county sheriff’s office and Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman in the lawsuit.

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