Hundreds of residents packed a town hall meeting in Idaho yesterday asking tough questions of their county’s sheriff after two deputies fatally shot a local rancher.
Over 200 residents from the town of Council voiced concerns over the death of Jack Yantis, the rancher killed by deputies last week, with some leaving the assembly angry over the answers Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman gave.
Police had first claimed that Yantis, 62, engaged in a fire fight with Adams County Sheriffs deputies last Monday on US Route 95 after being summoned to deal with his injured and aggravated two-ton Angus bull.
But Yantis’ daughter, Sarah, says there was no such gun fight, and instead called the altercation a “senseless murder” that was the result of police needlessly escalating the situation.
“There was no shootout. It was a senseless murder,” Sarah told the Idaho Statesman.
Other family members who witnessed the incident also refuted the official police version of events, such as Rowdy Paradis, the rancher’s nephew, who claimed one of the deputies grabbed Yantis as the rancher attempted to aim his rifle at the bull.
“I put the (skid loader’s) lights on him and the bull, and he lined up to shoot the bull in the back of head [sic] and put him out humanely,” Paradis told the Statesman.
“Everything was going as planned,” described Paradis. “Then the one cop turned around and grabbed his shoulder and jerked him backwards.”
Paradis says he’s not sure if Yantis’ weapon accidentally discharged at this point, or if the gun fired when a deputy’s bullet struck the rifle and Yantis’ hand.
Regardless, ”One deputy began shooting at Yantis, then the other deputy started shooting,” reports the Statesman. Yantis fell to the ground injured from gunshots to the chest and abdomen.
While unable to reveal many details due to an ongoing investigation, Sheriff Zollman apologized to townsfolk and the wife of Yantis, Donna, 63, who suffered a heart attack following the incident.
After recovering, Donna revealed to media outlets that she had been mistreated by officers shortly after watching her husband shot to death.
“And then they threatened me and my nephew … threw us on the middle of Highway 95, searched us and handcuffed us, and wouldn’t let us go take care of Jack,” Donna told the Statesman.
Locals at the meeting, where media was not allowed, reportedly asked Sheriff Zollman why “Yantis wasn’t medically treated, or allowed to be aided by his family who were on scene of the shooting,” according to KIVI-TV.
The sheriff was also asked whether the deputies were wearing body cameras, to which he replied “he did not know if body cams were recording the incident.”
“After nearly 45 minutes of questions from the community, some residents became angry and walked out of the church,” reports KIVI.
The Idaho State Police are currently investigating the incident.
“According to Boise area attorney, Paul Winward, Gerry Spence’s law firm out of Wyoming will also be on the case,” notes KIVI. “Spence represented Randy Weaver in the 1992 Ruby Ridge shootout that left three people dead.”
The rancher’s daughter hopes justice for her father comes swift.
“The road has been washed twice. It rained for a night and a day and his blood still remains here on the road and I believe this is where his blood is going to stay until he receives justice for this tragic and needless murder,” Sarah Yantis said in a statement.