BOISE – The FBI is investigating the shooting death of a central Idaho rancher by sheriff’s deputies for possible federal criminal violations by the officers.
U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson announced the federal investigation at a meeting with reporters Thursday at her office in Boise.
The FBI’s investigation is in addition to an ongoing investigation by the Idaho State Police; the Idaho Attorney General is serving as a special prosecutor in connection with the ISP investigation.
The ISP and attorney general will be looking at possible state criminal violations. Federal statutes that could be implicated include the federal prohibition on a law enforcement officer willfully and intentionally depriving a person of his or her statutory or constitutional rights. Intentional use of excessive force by law enforcement could violate the Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.
Olson offered no time frame for the federal investigation.
“We want to be deliberate and thorough,” she said. As authorities sort through the evidence in the case, she said, “People will need to be patient.”
Jack Yantis was shot and killed after a Subaru station wagon hit one of his bulls on U.S. Highway 95 near his ranch near the town of Council, Idaho. Dispatchers called him to the scene after the injured bull began charging emergency responders as they extricated the vehicle’s two occupants. The Adams County Sheriff’s office hasn’t spoken about what happened next, other than that firearms were discharged by both deputies and Yantis.
Yantis’ family members, at least two of whom witnessed the shooting, said the deputies had unsuccessfully tried to shoot the bull, and as Yantis aimed his rifle to shoot it in the head, they accosted him and shot him. His wife, Donna, who was at the scene after bringing Yantis his rifle, suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized.
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