Citing wrongful death, assault, false imprisonment and emotional distress, the family of Jack Yantis is taking legal action against the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and its two deputies who shot and killed Yantis nearly eight months ago.
Yantis’ wife, Donna, his daughters, Sarah and Lauretta, and his nephew, Rowdy Paradis, have filed a tort claim against Adams County, Deputies Cody Roland and Brian Wood, and Sheriff Ryan Zollman. A tort claim is a precursor required by Idaho law to filing a lawsuit against a county or government agency.
In the claim, the family describes a version of events identical to what they told the Idaho Statesman last November, in the week following Yantis’ death. Here is what the claim says happened during the Nov. 1. shooting of the 62-year-old Yantis, which took place on U.S. 95 in front of his ranch:
A bull strayed from the ranch and was hit by a car. An Adams County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher called the Yantis house and asked Jack Yantis to take care of the bull. Jack, his wife, their nephew and a family friend, Joe Rumsey, were at the house when dispatch called. All four went down to the highway to assist. Yantis stood on the highway behind the bull with his rifle aimed at the back of the animal’s head.
“(W)ithout any warning, provocation or justifiable excuse — Deputy (Cody) Roland suddenly stepped up behind Jack, grabbed him and jerked him around and backwards,” the claim states.
“(Deputy Roland and Deputy Brian Wood) immediately unleashed a hail of bullets. They shot to kill. It is unknown how many times they fired. ... (N)o reasonable deputy would have feared for his safety. It was obvious Jack was not committing a crime and posed no threat to anyone. The deputies did not ask Jack to put the rifle down. They did not give him any other requests, commands or warnings. They did not fire any warning shots. They did not fire any non-lethal shots. They did not even give Jack enough time to regain his footing after Deputy Roland assaulted him.”
After the shooting, the deputies “forcibly arrested” Donna Yantis and Rowdy Paradis at gunpoint. While at the scene, Donna Yantis had a heart attack. She spent more than two weeks in a hospital.
The claim, filed April 26, seeks $500,000, the maximum damages allowable under Idaho law.
This is insufficient compensation for Jack’s killing and the deputies’ reprehensible conduct. Punitive damages are required to punish the potential defendants and deter similar police brutality.
Yantis family tort claim
The county’s insurer, the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, is handling the tort claim. Director Rick Ferguson said ICRMP does not comment on pending claims.
Meanwhile, the shooting remains the subject of official investigations. Both the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are reviewing the shooting for possible criminal wrongdoing. The Idaho State Police concluded its investigation March 10 and turned its findings over to the Attorney General’s Office.
Neither agency has said when it will announce results.