A half-dozen people gathered on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol on Saturday to show state and federal officials they don’t believe justice was done for an Adams County rancher shot to death during an encounter with two sheriff’s deputies last fall.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced Friday that there would be no charges against deputies Brian Wood and Cody Roland in the death of Jack Yantis. (View the investigative file online).
“I believe it was a grave injustice,” said A.J. Ellis, a Marsing truck driver. “I’m upset that there wasn’t an opportunity for this to go to trial.”
A car collided with a bull Yantis owned Nov. 1 in front of Yantis’ ranch on U.S. 95 north of Council. At dispatchers’ request, Yantis went out to the highway to euthanize his bull.
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What happened next is disputed. The deputies say Yantis disobeyed their commands, pointed the rifle he had brought to kill the bull at one of them and fired, so they returned fire. His widow and nephew said Yantis did not threaten the deputies with his rifle and that the deputies killed him needlessly.
Ellis and others said they have concerns about law enforcement agencies investigating each other. They feel the system is rigged in favor of the police.
A “Support Your Local Police” rally planned for Saturday at the Capitol was canceled after the Yantis decision came out. Idaho Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, organizer of the event, said that was done in respect for the Yantis family. It has been postponed indefinitely.
But another pro-police rally went on as planned in Meridian Saturday. About 50 people attended, and five protesters picketed.
Parish Miller, a web designer in Boise, said at the Capitol protest that if Wasden couldn’t determine whether the Yantis shooting was justified, he should have let a grand jury hear the witness accounts from the rancher’s wife, Donna, and his nephew, Rowdy Paradis.
“I’d take her word over the officers’,” Miller said.
He said the deputies got “nine months of paid vacation, followed by exoneration, and life goes on.”
Robert Mayer, a former health inspector who lives in Boise, called for Wasden’s resignation for not prosecuting “the executioners of Jack Yantis.” He held a sign reading “Ranchers Lives Matter.”
Daniel L.J. Adams, a Boise man whose business card describes him as a “political dissident,” said he was not surprised that the deputies won’t face charges.
“It was the outcome we expected, because you can’t get justice against government agencies that abuse you in this country,” Adams said.