Family members of Idaho rancher Jack Yantis say two deputies “needlessly” shot and killed him at the start of the month.
Yantis, 62, was called to the scene of a car accident Nov. 1 after one of his 2,500-pound black Gelbvieh bulls was hit by a Subaru station wagon in Council, Idaho. Officials said the animal, which was charging emergency workers despite an injured leg, had to be put down.
The rancher showed up with his .204-caliber rifle to handle the task, but it was he whom officials declared dead shortly afterward. The family said its bull had made it to the open range’s driveway and was lying in the grass when police riled it up.
“They opened up with their pistols and their M16s [on the bull] … before Jack got there,” Yantis’ nephew, Rowdy Paradis, told the Idaho Statesman on Saturday. “That’s an inhumane deal. … This is a 2-ton Angus bull that’s pissed off, he’s hurt and psychotic. … It was blazing down there and it sounded like World War III on this bull, because they got him charging at everyone again.”
The Idaho State Police immediately launched an investigation into the shooting. The family, however, says the deputies’ actions were “completely unjustified.”
“Law enforcement should be trained to de-escalate situations. In this case, I stood 10 feet away and watched two deputies escalate the situation and needlessly kill a man,” Paradis added.
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Yantis’ family said an all-terrain vehicle with a skid loader was parked next to the bull prior to the altercation with deputies.
“I put the [skid loader’s] lights on him and the bull, and [Yantis] lined up to shoot the bull in the back of head and put him out humanely,” Paradis said. “Everything was going as planned. … Then the one cop turned around and grabbed his shoulder and jerked him backward.”
Paradis said the rancher’s rifle accidentally went off, which prompted two deputies to shoot Yantis in the chest and abdomen.
Yantis’ wife, Donna, told the newspaper police, “threw [family members] on the middle of Highway 95, searched us and handcuffed us, and wouldn’t let us go take care of Jack.” She is in serious condition at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise following a heart attack the night of the shooting.
Paradis said one deputy pointed a gun at his head.
“There was no shootout. It was a senseless murder,” added Yantis’ daughter, Sarah.
Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman told KTVB Nov. 5 he could not comment at this time due to the ongoing investigation.
“I’m a transparent person, I will give you the facts when I know the facts. I’m not hiding anything from anybody,” Zollman told the network.
“ISP reassures those involved in this incident, their families and the public at large, that they are committed to complete a thorough investigation into this incident to determine exactly what transpired,” spokeswoman Teresa Baker said in a news release last week, the Statesman reported. “ISP detectives are continuing to conduct interviews and are methodically examining each piece of evidence. Physical evidence will be sent to forensic labs for analysis in hopes of revealing further facts that will help piece together the events that unfolded that night.”
The sheriff told the Statesman on Thursday his deputies were wearing body cameras during the shooting. It was not stated whether their cameras were recording.
A vehicle dash camera for the men was not turned on, the newspaper reported.