Two Adams County sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed a rancher last fall will not be back with the force, two leaders of a group seeking justice for the rancher’s family said Wednesday.
State and federal prosecutors decided last month not to prosecute the deputies, Brian Wood and Cody Roland, saying there was not enough evidence to support state homicide charges or federal civil rights charges. The deputies say they shot Jack Yantis after he pointed a rifle at them and refused their commands to point it downward. Yantis had been summoned to the highway to euthanize one of his bulls, which had been hit by a car.
Becca Barrow and Mike McLaughlin, co-founders of a group called Justice for Jack and friends of the Yantis family, said they had learned from multiple sources that Wood and Roland would not return to work. Sheriff Ryan Zollman first would not confirm that on Wednesday, but later did confirm that Roland, in fact, resigned at the end of November.
A lawyer for the county, Boise attorney Jim Davis, said a statement would be forthcoming. As of Wednesday evening, no statement had been issued.
Barrow provided the Statesman with an email exchange she had with Zollman on Tuesday evening. She asked Zollman, “Just wondering when you will be putting out a public announcement that Cody and Brian will not be returning.” He replied, “It will be out as soon as our legal council [sic] has it completed.”
Zollman had said repeatedly that Wood and Roland were on administrative, paid leave since the Nov. 1 death of Yantis on U.S. 95 in front of his ranch. However, Davis told the Statesman on Wednesday that Roland had resigned “a long time ago.” Asked about that, Zollman confirmed it.
The county’s insurer — the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, or ICRMP — agreed to reimburse the county for the deputies’ paid leave. ICRMP Director Rick Ferguson told the Statesman on Wednesday that it has been reimbursing Adams County only for Wood, not Roland.
Idaho Peace Officer and Standards Training, a division of the Idaho State Police that certifies all local and state law enforcement officers in Idaho, said Roland is still listed as an Adams County Sheriff’s Office employee.
“Until POST receives a completed separation/change-in-status form from Adams CSO [County Sheriff’s Office] for Officer Roland, Roland’s employment status will remain as active in the POST records system,” said POST management assistant Jolene Santos.
Roland declined to comment.
“I’m not talking about any of this,” he told the Statesman, and then hung up.
Wood and the deputies’ attorney, Nampa’s Kevin Dinius, did not respond to requests for comment.
On Monday, Wood and Roland told KIVI-TV in Nampa that they had not decided whether they want to return to work. “I’ll have to get back to you on that,” Roland said.
In two long Facebook posts last Thursday, Wood argued that Yantis conducted himself with a “complete disregard for human life” in the way he handled his rifle after he was called to put down his bull. Wood said Yantis positioned himself so that firing at the bull would have meant firing toward emergency workers and victims at the crash site, and Yantis ignored repeated commands to point his gun down.
Wood asserted that he heard Yantis fire his weapon.
“Recognizing Yantis’s obvious threat, or attempt, to murder Deputy (Roland), I raised my rifle toward Yantis’s chest, “ Wood posted on Facebook. “While I was raising my rifle, I heard a gunshot. I believe the gunshot was from Yantis’s rifle. The next shot I heard was from my own rifle ... I also heard Deputy (Roland’s) handgun firing.”
Investigators found that Yantis was shot 12 times. The rancher’s wife, Donna Yantis, and nephew Rowdy Paradis were at the scene. Their accounts are much different than the deputies’ accounts. The family has filed notice of plans to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Adams County, Zollman and the deputies.
A Statesman investigation showed that prior employers had disciplined the deputies. Wood was investigated twice and fired from his previous job as a McCall police officer after he poached an elk. Roland was investigated four times by the Valley County Sheriff’s Office before he resigned.