The deputies who killed Central Idaho rancher Jack Yantis committed “a deadly response to a fictional non-deadly threat,” Yantis family members say in a new wrongful death lawsuit.
Adams County sheriff’s deputies Brian Wood and Cody Roland shot and killed Yantis on Nov. 1, 2015, while the rancher was attempting to put down his bull that had been severely injured in a car crash.
A car driven by a Nampa couple struck the bull on U.S. 95 in front of the Yantis ranch north of Council. County dispatchers had called Yantis, 62, at home to tell him to take care of the injured animal. He went to the road with his rifle to euthanize it. The deputies said Yantis held his rifle in a threatening manner and refused commands to lower it. They shot him 12 times.
Jack Yantis’ wife, Donna; two daughters, Sarah and Lauretta; and nephew, Rowdy Paradis, filed the civil suit Friday in federal court. Donna Yantis and Paradis witnessed the shooting.
The 26-page complaint filed against Adams County, Sheriff Ryan Zollman, and Wood and Roland alleges several claims: wrongful death, unreasonable seizures, assault and battery, false imprisonment and emotional distress.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden recreated the last five minutes of Jack Yantis’ life based on the sometimes conflicting witness testimony. Wasden said there is insufficient evidence to convict the two Adams County sheriff’s deputies involved in the fatal shooting of Yantis on Nov. 1. 2015 on the highway in front of his ranch north of Council.
Among the lawsuit’s allegations:
▪ The deputies shot with intent to kill Yantis, rather than to warn or injure him.
▪ Following the shooting, Roland handcuffed Donna Yantis and held a gun to her head; Wood handcuffed Paradis and put his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to the back of Paradis’ head. Both thought the deputies would kill them.
▪ The sheriff was aware that Roland and Wood were together for more than an hour after the shooting, but made no effort to separate them before they gave statements.
▪ Both deputies falsely claimed Yantis had shot Roland. “In reality, Deputy Roland was unharmed.”
▪ The sheriff was “deliberately indifferent” to the deputies’ lack of, or improper, training.
The family seeks unspecified damages.
The Statesman has reached out to Wood, Roland and Zollman for comment. Undersheriff Jeff Brown declined comment to the Associated Press on the lawsuit, that news agency reported Friday.