The Idaho Attorney General’s Office announced that it will not file criminal charges against the two Adams County deputies who were responsible for shooting and killing a 62-year-old rancher last year.
Shooting Angers Idaho Community
Rancher Jack Yantis was killed last November when dispatchers called him and asked him to put down one of his bulls that had been hit by a car on U.S. Highway 95. When Yantis arrived at the highway with a rifle, he was shot by deputies Cody Roland and Brian Wood.
The shooting caused an uproar within the Council, Idaho community, with protests and rallies held asking for “Justice for Jack.” One protestor, Rebecca Borrow, articulated her thoughts, “(The shooting has) affected this whole community…It’s not safe, it’s not this little tiny community where kids can run around, not be watched…you don’t have to lock your doors. We’re not, we don’t trust the police department. We don’t know what’s going to happen anymore. If they can murder somebody in Council, Idaho, they can murder anyone in this nation.”
Investigations Reveal Evidence Not There to Support Conviction
The Idaho State Police and the FBI separately investigated the incident. The Idaho State Police investigation consisted of interviews with more than 40 people and the review of multiple forensic reports. Captain Bill Gardiner released a statement regarding the investigation, “I commend our detectives for their dedication in completing a thorough investigation of this incident in light of the unique circumstances presented…We appreciate the patience displayed by the individuals involved, as well as the public during the investigation.”
After a review of the investigation, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced that his office will not file criminal charges against the two deputies who shot and killed Yantis. Wasden stated that after a review of more than 5,000 pages of reports, lab results, evidence was “insufficient to support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”
At a news conference to the community, Wasden stated, “This is a tragic event…This is catastrophic to a community. I wish there was a different outcome, but I don’t have the ability to do that. But my duty, my obligation, my responsibility is to make certain that justice was done.”
Witness Accounts and Shell Casings
Wasden’s office released new details about the shooting. According to the report, Deputy Wood called Yantis to respond to his bull that was “injured and not very happy.” When Yantis arrived, the deputies became concerned about the safety of others because of the direction that Yantis was aiming his gun. The deputies report that Yantis was pointing his rifle toward the bull, but also toward the crash scene, where emergency workers were still assisting the crash victims. However, Yantis’ family members report that his gun was pointed toward the ditch, not the accident scene. The deputies saw that after they intervened, Yantis pointed his rifle toward Deputy Roland and fired a shot. The deputies then fired at Yantis, who was shot 12 times.
The four witnesses to the incident, Wood, Roland, Yantis’ wife, and Yantis’ nephew, gave conflicting accounts of what happened, disagreeing on whether Yantis fired his rifle. However, the report noted that “In addition to the 20 spent shell casings from the deputies’ guns, a .20 caliber round was found at the scene and Yantis’ .204 rifle had an empty shell casing in the chamber. The FBI ballistics expert who tested the .20 round was unable to conclusively determine whether it came from Yantis .204.”
Wasden’s office was under criticism for taking so long to release the details of the investigation, but he says that the final pieces of evidence, including an interview with one of the deputies and the ballistics testing, were not received in his office until June.