One of the sheriff’s deputies involved in the shooting death of an Adams County rancher on Nov. 1 told his father that he believes his actions that night were justified — and that “God never intended for man to kill another man.”
“This weighs upon him, even believing he did the right thing,” Eagle resident Steve Wood said of his son, Brian. “This weighs upon him. It’s not easy.”
Brian S. Wood, 31, and Cody W. Roland, 38, were the two deputies involved in the death that night of Jack Yantis, 62, a lifelong resident of the Council area.
Idaho State Police and the FBI are investigating the incident, which drew attention around the world after rancher Jack Yantis’s family said the deputies killed Yantis needlessly. Those agencies deferred to Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman to release the names of his deputies, but Zollman withheld them in concern for their safety after they received death threats.
The Statesman confirmed the names of the deputies through multiple authoritative sources, and the newspaper notified the deputies through their attorney and Zollman on Monday afternoon that they would be named in a news story. Zollman released the names at about 6 p.m.
Yantis attorney Paul Winward said the rancher’s family sees the disclosure of the deputies’ names as “the first step toward accountability and justice.”
State and federal investigators have been trying to determine what happened with Yantis and the deputies after a car struck the rancher’s bull on U.S. Highway 95 in front of his house.
A dispatcher called Yantis to go to the scene to handle the bull, which was still alive. 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, then the other deputy opened fire. All three men fired their weapons, ISP has said.
Yantis’ wife, Donna, suffered a heart attack after watching her husband die on the highway. “I saw them murder my husband,” she said in a statement to family lawyers. She has been released from a Boise hospital but is still receiving medical treatment.
Steve Wood told the Statesman that the stress on the families of the deputies is “incredible,” and he is concerned about the safety of his son.
“The family is hurting on our side, the family is hurting on their side. There’s no good that comes out of this,” Steve Wood said. “The fallout from this is more severe than I thought, and the threat is higher than I thought.”
Wood said his son did not confide in him about specifics of what happened. Still, he believes public opinion will shift dramatically when all of the facts surrounding the incident come to light. “The first to bring an accusation is always thought right until the facts are known,” he said.
He said his son is a highly trained rangemaster and outdoorsman who is careful with firearms and knowledgeable in diffusing tense situations.
“The last thing he wants to do is be the final point on someone’s life,” Steve Wood said. “That doesn’t match up with anything we believe, he believes. This is opposite of who he is.”
Wood wants his son to consider other career options rather than stay in law enforcement, but said Brian Wood intends to stay with the sheriff’s office.
“He totally intends to go back to work,” Wood said.
Nampa attorney Kevin Dinius is representing Wood and Roland. Dinius said the deputies won’t speak publicly about the incident out of respect for the investigative process.
“I do not think it appropriate for either of the deputies involved to publicly comment on the incident until the investigation is completed,” Dinius told the Statesman. “Suffice it to say, we have reviewed the Yantis family members’ version of events and they are not accurate in numerous material respects.”
In his statement releasing the names, Zollman wrote: “I still have concerns about threats made against the deputies but, at this time I believe that it is the right thing to do. I sincerely hope that our deputies and their families will be safe and that the citizens here in Adams County and others throughout the country will reserve judgment in this incident until the investigation is finished."
Brian S. Wood: Sued over traffic stop, he left McCall police job
A traffic stop that went wrong apparently led McCall police to part ways with Brian S. Wood four years ago and prompted the elderly driver to sue the city, resulting in a settlement.
Wood, 31, is one of the two Adams County sheriff’s deputies involved in the fatal Nov. 1 shooting of Council-area rancher Jack Yantis on a highway where a car crashed into one of Yantis’s bulls. The deputies’ identities became public Monday.
Wood has worked for two Idaho law-enforcement agencies in the past five years, according to public records obtained from Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy.
He joined the McCall Police Department as a patrol officer on Feb. 1, 2010. He left the department almost two years later on Nov. 30, 2011, one week after a 78-year-old man sued Wood and the department, alleging that he used excessive force after stopping the man for speeding.
According to court records and an incident report:
On the morning of July 6, 2011, Wood pulled over Rodney Whaley because he was driving 35 mph in a 25 mph zone.
Whaley wore two hearing aids, suffered from severe arthritis and had undergone two heart surgeries. His chest had been stapled closed, and his doctor told him to be careful in his activities. He was driving a car with an Idaho license plate for people with disabilities.
Whaley said that after Wood turned on his police car’s flashing lights, Whaley pulled over and got out of his car. Wood told him to get back into it. Whaley said he wanted to know what he had done. Wood told Whaley several times to get in the car or he would arrest him.
Whaley said Wood did not give him time to get back in his car before he seized him by the arms and “slammed” him onto the police car’s hood. Whaley said that during the encounter he had trouble breathing, lost consciousness and fell to the gravel.
A video camera in Wood’s patrol car was not pointed at the two men but did capture audio, in which Whaley demands that Wood not touch him, Wood insists that Whaley put his hands behind his back, and Whaley says Wood is hurting him.
Whaley was taken to McCall Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for abrasions. When he was released later that day, Wood took him to the Valley County Jail, where Whaley was charged with resisting and obstructing officers.
Whaley posted a bond and left the jail. The next day, his daughter took him to a Lewiston hospital for further treatment of injuries on his hands and four bruised ribs. Whaley returned to the McCall hospital July 25 and July 28 to be treated for breathing difficulties, high blood pressure, staph infection and pneumonia.
A judge dismissed the obstruction charge against Whaley. Whaley sued Wood and McCall in federal court in Boise in November 2011, alleging excessive force and other civil rights violations. The case was settled in April 2012. Court documents do not contain details of the settlement, which are typically confidential.
According to POST, McCall police terminated Wood’s employment on Nov. 30, 2011. The McCall city clerk would not tell the Statesman if Wood’s departure was involuntary, citing personnel privacy.
Nineteen months later, on June 27, 2013, Wood joined the sheriff’s office in neighboring Adams County as a part-time marine deputy. He became a full-time deputy that Sept. 20.
According to Idaho’s court records repository, Wood pleaded guilty in 2011 to two violations of Idaho Fish and Game regulations, unlawfully possessing wildlife and having no game-hunting tag. He paid $715 in fines and received a withheld judgment in 2013, which means he satisfied the terms of his sentence and no conviction was entered into his record.
Wood had four traffic infractions between 2001 and 2005, including two speeding tickets, a lack of registration and reckless driving, which was reduced to failure to obey highway lane markings.
He is married.
Cody Roland builds career in small-town Idaho law enforcement
Cody W. Roland, one of the two deputies involved in the fatal Nov. 1 shooting of rancher Jack Yantis, has worked for six Idaho law enforcement agencies in the past 15 years. He became a full-time Adams County sheriff’s deputy just four months before the shooting.
According to public records obtained from Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Academy, Roland joined the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office on April 17, 2000, as a detention deputy. He resigned Oct. 3, 2001 and joined the Parma Police Department as a patrol officer the next day. He resigned Aug. 26, 2004 and joined the Gooding Police Department. Records also list him as a reserve officer with Wilder Police Department from March 12, 2001 to Dec. 17, 2003.
Gooding hired Roland as a patrol officer on Aug. 30, 2004 and he quit about a year later to join the Valley County Sheriff’s Office. He started that job Aug. 19, 2005 and stayed with it more than 6 years, resigning Jan. 16, 2012. While at Valley County he worked as a patrol deputy, patrol supervisor and adult detention officer.
According to an Aug. 29, 2007, article in the “Long Valley Advocate” newspaper in Cascade, Valley County Sheriff Patti Bolen presented Roland with a presidential commendation for volunteer work he did while with the Gooding Police Department. “For service to others, you demonstrate the outstanding character of America and help strengthen our country,” President George W. Bush wrote.
Eighteen months after resigning from Valley County, Roland joined Adams County as a part-time reserve deputy on Aug. 21, 2014. He became a full-time patrol deputy on July 7, 2015.
According to Idaho repository of court records, Roland was ordered to pay three judgments resulting from small-claims actions for unpaid debts from 1998 to 2004 for amounts ranging from $200 to $1,000. He paid fines in 1999 for two traffic violations, speeding and failure to wear a seat belt.
He is married.
Yantis had prior run-in with sheriff’s office
It was a long time ago — more than 18 years — but Jack Yantis did previously get crosswise with an Adams County sheriff’s deputy.
In June 1997, Yantis was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery and two counts of resisting and obstructing officers. The Statesman obtained the court file, but it contained little information about what led to the charges.
The criminal complaint said Yantis, then 44, unlawfully touched an officer and delayed a peace officer in his duties. The deputy who filed the complaint was John Mereen.
Yantis pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of resisting and obstructing. The other charges were dropped. He was ordered to pay a fine of $300 and placed on probation for one year. He received a withheld judgment, which means he satisfied the terms of his sentence and no conviction was entered into his record.
There is one other serious charge on Yantis’ record in Idaho, according to online court records. In May 2002, he was charged with DUI and driving with an open container of beer after he was stopped on U.S. Highway 95 in Adams County by Idaho State Police trooper. Breath tests showed that Yantis had blood-alcohol levels of 0.12 and 0.15 — both above the legal limit of 0.08.
A jury found Yantis guilty, and he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, though 27 were suspended. He was ordered to complete 16 hours of alcohol education and to pay fines and fees of $675.
Yantis’ driver’s license was suspended for 90 days, though he was permitted to drive from daylight to dusk for ranch activities and substance-abuse counseling. A letter in the court file indicated Yantis completed the required alcohol education at a counseling center in McCall.
On Nov. 1, Yantis and his wife, Donna, were finishing dinner with their nephew, Rowdy Paradis, when Yantis was called by a sheriff’s dispatcher to take care of his bull, which had just been hit on U.S. 95 by a car. Yantis’ fatal encounter with two sheriff’s deputies occurred at the crash scene when, family members said, he was trying to shoot the bull to kill it.
Jack and Donna “had been together since they were little kids,” Rowdy Paradis said later in a statement to lawyers at the ranch. “This was their dream. I mean, he cut logs for 20 years to pay for this place.”
At a public memorial service Nov. 14, speakers remembered Yantis as a hard worker who had been played on the football team at Council High School. He graduated in 1971.