Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman said Tuesday that he’s relying on the county’s insurer to help determine the timeline for the return of two deputies involved in the fatal shooting of rancher Jack Yantis.
“When they tell me they’re good to go,” Zollman said. “Some come back quicker, some come back later. I’m not sure what other agencies use as a guideline. I’m using ICRMP (Idaho Counties Risk Management Program) as my source. They haven’t given me any idea.”
State and federal investigators have been trying to determine what happened between Yantis and the deputies after a vehicle struck the rancher’s bull on U.S. 95 in front of his house Nov. 1.
A dispatcher called Yantis to the scene to handle the bull, which was alive but mortally wounded. Yantis’s wife and nephew, who witnessed the incident, said he was aiming his rifle at the back of the bull’s head to kill it when one of the deputies grabbed Yantis from behind and swung him around, and then the other deputy opened fire. Nothing about the deputies’ account of the incident has been released.
Zollman said he withheld the names until this week because he feared for the officers’ safety after receiving death threats. The Statesman confirmed the deputies’ names through other sources and notified the sheriff and the deputies Monday afternoon of intent to publish them.
“I’ve gotten a couple of emails critizing the officers. I haven’t talked to the officers today,” Zollman said.
Dale Fisk, reporter and editor for the Adams County Record, said he hadn’t heard of any issues. That paper will carry the names of the deputies, but not their photos.
“We’re not going to do the pictures because we don’t want to make them an even bigger target than they already are,” Fisk said.
He said the paper had received some letters to the editor about Yantis’ death, but not as many as he expected. Fisk said they chose not to run a letter from an out-of-state resident.
“We’ve got enough local sounding off in town. We don’t need someone from out of state to rile things up,” said Fisk, noting that members of the community are upset but trying to have patience with the process. “Some of the things he was saying were unfactual.”
Before releasing their names, Zollman spoke with the deputies about managing their personal social media accounts. It appeared that both deputies took steps Tuesday to edit and/or protect the privacy of their Facebook accounts.
The sheriff said he’s not aware of any investigation into threats made against the deputies or others with the department. Extra patrols were put at their homes after Yantis’ death. One lives in Adams County and the other in Valley County. Previous reports that the deputies left their homes due to safety concerns were incorrect, Zollman said.
He said he hopes that any threats against him and the deputies are hollow, but he’s taking extra precautions.
“I sleep with shotgun by the door and a pistol on the headboard. Those are the realities of my life,” said Zollman.
He said he has no second thoughts about running for re-election next year.