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FBI Now Investigates Suspicious Shooting Death Of Idaho Rancher By Sheriff’s Deputies

The FBI is now investigating the suspicious shooting death of a 62 year old Idaho rancher by two sheriff’s deputies last week. As the rancher responded to a call to retrieve one of his bulls from an auto accident, in front of his property, on a state road, he was met by two deputies who let loose with a barrage of fire on the bull, injuring, but not killing the animal. As the rancher tried to end the bulls life, the deputies accosted the rancher, and ultimately shot him, resulting in his death. The rancher’s wife and nephew witnessed the event and were also wrestled to the ground and handcuffed. The events resulted in the rancher’s wife suffering a heart attack.

IdahoStatesman.com reported: Family members have shared with the Statesman their account of what happened last Sunday night. The account is in written statements prepared with attorneys the family hired after the incident, a video statement Donna Yantis made from her Boise hospital bed, and a draft transcript the lawyers prepared of one family member’s account of what happened.

The Statesman also interviewed several family members, including Rowdy Paradis, a nephew of the couple’s who said he witnessed the shootings.

“Law enforcement should be trained to de-escalate situations,” said Rowdy Paradis. “In this case, I stood 10 feet away and watched two deputies escalate the situation and needlessly kill a man.”

Sheriff Ryan Zollman did not respond Saturday to an emailed request for comment on the family’s account or to a message left with a sheriff’s dispatcher.

Here is what the family says happened on Nov. 1:

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 11.41.15 AM

A PHONE CALL AT DINNER

The Yantises, Paradis (pronounced PAR-a-dis) and a family friend, Joe Rumsey, were finishing dinner about 6:45 p.m. Sunday in the Yantises’ home near milepost 142 of U.S. 95, about 6 miles north of Council.

THEY HAD BEEN TOGETHER SINCE THEY WERE LITTLE KIDS. THIS WAS THEIR DREAM. I MEAN, HE CUT LOGS FOR 20 YEARS TO PAY FOR THIS PLACE.

Nephew Rowdy Paradis on Jack and Donna Yantis and their ranch

An Adams County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher called. One of the family’s bulls had just been hit by a car on the highway, and the Yantises needed to go take care of it.

In rural open range, collisions between vehicles and livestock are not uncommon. Ranchers often must put down the injured animals. Jack Yantis had unfortunately done it before.

Yantis had raised and tamed the 2,500-pound black Gelbvieh bull, similar to an Angus, named Keiford. Its rear leg was shattered by the collision with a Subaru station wagon. The bull started charging people at the crash scene.

Paradis walked down to check out the situation. The injured bull had made its way back to the driveway and was lying in the grass.

“He knew he was home,” Paradis said. “He was hurt. But he is still an Angus bull on the fight.”

DEPUTIES SHOOT BULL

Jack Yantis told Paradis to get a rifle, the family’s skid-steer loader (a small front-end loader) and a chain. Paradis in turn asked his aunt to the get the family’s .204-caliber rifle and bring it to the road.

Yantis took a small all-terrain vehicle, in this case a four-wheeler, down the driveway and parked it on the highway facing the animal.

JACK WENT TO THE END OF THE DRIVEWAY TO END THE BULL’S LIFE AND PROTECT ANYONE FROM GETTING HURT, INCLUDING THE VERY DEPUTIES WHO SHOT AND KILLED HIM.

Donna Yantis, widow

While Paradis was getting the skid loader, the deputies started shooting at the bull. At least one of them had a semiautomatic rifle, perhaps an AR-15, an adaptation of the military M16.

“They opened up with their pistols and their M16s … before Jack got there,” Paradis said. “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.”

Paradis drove the skid loader down the driveway and parked on the highway. The bull was lying on the pavement. Donna Yantis had walked the rifle to her husband. Jack Yantis was standing about 4 feet from the bull, aiming the rifle at the back of the bull’s head. His back was to the two deputies, who were standing in the far lane facing each other as if they were having a conversation.

“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 and put him out humanely,” Paradis said.

DEPUTIES SHOOT YANTIS

The rifle’s barrel was about 2 feet from the bull, and Jack Yantis’ finger was on the trigger.

“Everything was going as planned. … I did not notice any conversation at all” between Jack Yantis and the deputies, Paradis said. “Then the one cop turned around and grabbed his shoulder and jerked him backwards.”

The deputy came from behind, spun Yantis around and grabbed the rifle’s scope, Paradis said.

The deputy pushed Yantis. The rifle was still in Yantis’ hands, its barrel pointed at the ground. Yantis was trying to regain his footing.

Paradis said he does not know whether the rifle fired, but he thinks it might have discharged accidentally when the deputy grabbed Yantis and spun him, or when one of the deputy’s bullets pierced Yantis’ hand holding the rifle, hitting the gun and damaging it.

One deputy began shooting at Yantis, then the other deputy started shooting.

HANDCUFFS AND A HEART ATTACK

Donna Yantis said she and Paradis screamed at the deputies to stop.

Shot in the chest and abdomen, Jack Yantis fell to the ground. Neither deputy went to check on him. Paradis and Donna Yantis started running toward him.

“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 Yantis said.

Paradis said one deputy pointed his gun at Paradis’ head.

Donna Yantis had a heart attack. Some time later, she was taken by ambulance to Midvale and then by helicopter to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where she remained hospitalized Saturday.

Rumsey, the family friend at dinner, had been near the wrecked car when the shooting started and ran toward Jack. The deputies handcuffed him, too.

Now, just days after the incident, the FBI is investigating the incident.

FOX News reports: The FBI has opened an investigation into the death of an Idaho rancher who was shot by sheriff’s deputies after one of his bulls was hit by a car and charged emergency crews.

The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash. reported late Thursday that FBI probe into the shooting of Jack Yantis will be conducted in addition to an investigation by the Idaho State Police. No time frame for the federal investigation was offered.

“We want to be deliberate and thorough,” U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson told reporters in announcing the investigation. “People will need to be patient.”

Yantis, 62, died on the night of Nov. 1 in a murky exchange of gunfire with two Adams County deputies along a dark, open stretch of highway north of the small town of Council. Dispatchers had called Yantis while he was at dinner, telling him to take care of his 2,500-pound Gelbvieh bull, which had been struck by a Subaru station wagon.

According to the Yantis family’s version of events, provided last week to the Idaho Statesman newspaper, the rancher rode to the scene on an all-terrain vehicle, and his wife, Donna, picked up the family’s .204-caliber rifle and met him on the highway.

Yantis’ nephew, Rowdy Paradis said Yantis asked him to bring a small front-end loader to transport the animal once they were finished. The family says the deputies had shot the bull before Yantis arrived.

When he got there, his wife handed him the rifle and he aimed the gun at the animal lying on the pavement. The deputies stood behind him as he put the barrel a few feet from the bull’s head with his finger on the trigger, his family said. Paradis said he did not see Yantis or the deputies speak.

That’s when a deputy grabbed Yantis’ shoulder from behind, turned him around and pushed the rancher. Relatives think the gun might have gone off accidentally and then the deputies opened fire. The family says Yantis was shot in the chest and abdomen.

The Spokesman-Review reported that FBI investigators will investigate whether the deputies used excessive force or intentionally shot Yantis. The Idaho State Police investigation, which is being overseen by the state Attorney General, is examining whether the deputies violated state law.

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