Monday, November 16, 2015

FBI investigating 'senseless murder' of rancher, 62, gunned down by deputies while he was trying to euthanize his 2,500lb bull

The FBI has launched an investigation into the death of an Idaho rancher who was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies after one of his bulls was struck by a car and charged emergency crews.

Jack Yantis, 62, died on November 1 after an altercation with two Adams County deputies near the town of Council that was spurred on by his 2,500-pound Gelbvieh bull, Idaho State Police said.

The dead rancher's family claims the deputies had shot the bull before Yantis got to the scene with his .204-caliber rifle. As they had failed to kill the animal, they asked Yantis to put it out of its misery.

What happened next is unclear, but family members who claim they saw the shooting said Yantis aimed the gun at the animal lying on the highway pavement, the Idaho Statesman reported.

The deputies stood behind Yantis as he put the barrel a few feet from the bull's head with his finger on the trigger and then one of them turned the rancher around and pushed him, his family said.

Relatives think the gun might have gone off accidentally and caused the deputies to open fire, with bullets striking Yantis in the chest and abdomen.

'There was no shootout. It was a senseless murder,' said Yantis' daughter, Sarah.

Investigators said it is believed that Yantis and both of the deputies fired their weapons.

The well-known cattle rancher had a criminal record and had previously been found guilty of resisting or obstructing officers, and driving under the influence, according to state records.

US Attorney Wendy Olson said federal authorities are involved because of allegations the deputies used excessive force, which would violate US laws.

'The attorney general's office will carefully review the evidence, we'll carefully review the evidence, and decisions will be made.

'That does take a period of time to do and get right.'

Olson said the FBI's investigation is separate from the one by state police and that the Idaho attorney general and the US Attorney's Office would independently decide whether to file charges.

'Law enforcement should be trained to de-escalate situations,' said Rowdy Paradis, a nephew of the Yantis' who said he was a witness. 'In this case, I stood ten feet away and watched two deputies escalate the situation and needlessly kill a man.'

Yantis' wife, Donna, who was also at the scene, said she and Paradis tried to run to the fallen rancher but the deputies threw them to the ground.

She had a heart attack at the scene and had to be flown to a local hospital, where she recorded a video statement about what she said she had witnessed.

'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,' she said in the video statement.

In the state's rural areas it is common for vehicles to strike livestock and Yantis had put down animals before, according to his relatives.

The deputies who were involved have not been identified and they are on paid administrative leave as per agency policy, according to the Adams County Sheriff's Office.

'Our thoughts are with our community and especially all those involved in this incident,' said Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman.

'The Adams County Sheriff's Office takes matters involving any use of force very seriously and we have requested detectives with the Idaho State Police to conduct the investigation into this incident.'

Original report here

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