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The FBI is investigating the shooting death of an Adams County 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 at her office today in Boise.
The FBI’s investigation is in addition to the ongoing investigation by the Idaho State Police; the Idaho Attorney General is serving as a special prosecutor in connection with the ISP investigation. “The FBI is also conducting an investigation,” Olson said. “They have met with ISP. Our office will make a determination on whether there are any federal charges that can be brought. I’ve talked to the state Attorney General’s office,” she said. “They are two independent investigations and two independent prosecutorial decision making processes.” But, she said, “There will be a sharing of information.”
The ISP and Attorney General will be looking at possible state criminal violations; the federal authorities are examining possible federal 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 4th Amendment’s 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.”
“ISP will be thorough, the FBI will be thorough,” Olson said. “The Attorney General’s office will carefully review the evidence, we’ll carefully review the evidence, and decisions will be made. … That does take a period of time to do and get right.”
Yantis was shot to death after a Subaru station wagon hit one of his bulls on Highway 95 near his Council ranch; dispatchers called him to the scene after the injured bull began charging emergency responders as they extricated the vehicle’s two occupants. The sheriff’s office hasn’t said anything 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, told the Idaho Statesman 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.
The Idaho Attorney General’s office has agreed to serve as special prosecutor in the case of the shooting death of a 62-year-old Council rancher by two sheriff’s deputies after the rancher’s bull was struck by a car. The death of Jack Yantis has stunned the small community of Council, especially after Yantis’ family – including his wife, Donna, who witnessed the shooting and then suffered a heart attack – told the Idaho Statesman that there was no shootout, and the deputies interrupted and shot Yantis as he prepared to shoot the injured bull with a rifle.
“I stood 10 feet away and watched two deputies escalate the situation and needlessly kill a man,” said Yantis’ nephew, Rowdy Paradis, who also witnessed the shooting. The family’s story was detailed in a Sunday article by Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell; you can read it here.
The incident, which happened after dark, began with the crash of a Subaru station wagon on U.S. 95 into the bull near the driveway of Yantis’ ranch; and both people in the car were injured and had to be extricated. The injured bull began charging emergency responders as they worked; dispatchers summoned Yantis to the scene, calling him as the family was finishing dinner on that Sunday evening.
You can read the latest AP report on the case here, and the Statesman’s latest story here, which reports that a town hall meeting is planned for tonight - the news media is not invited - and a peaceful protest has been set for Saturday; Yantis’ memorial service is set for Sunday. The Idaho State Police are investigating the incident.
Finding a cop may be a problem for tourists on some parts of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Boaters who put others at risk - like those who drink excessively - may not be held accountable. Elsewhere in Benewah County, Coeur d’Alene tribal cops may stop but not detain an intoxicated driver if he’s not a member of the Coeur d’ Alene Indian Tribe. Same goes for nontribal members accused of domestic abuse. If a representative of the Benewah County sheriff’s office doesn’t show up, tribal cops have little recourse but to release the suspect. All of which was supposedly resolved months ago, long before the summer tourist season began/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Anyone surprised that the cross-deputization deal cut with the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe unraveled once lawmakers adjourned and the pressure was off the Benewah County?