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Sheriff, deputies deny allegations in Idaho rancher lawsuit

By Kimberlee Kruesi Associated Press

BOISE – Law enforcement officials named in a wrongful death lawsuit deny allegations they violated federal civil rights during and after the shooting of an Idaho rancher.

Jack Yantis, 62, was killed two years ago after one of his 2,500-pound bulls was hit by a car and charged emergency crews on a highway just north of the tiny town of Council in west-central Idaho. Yantis arrived with a rifle just as deputies decided to put down the animal. Authorities have said there was an altercation, and Yantis and two deputies all fired their weapons.

Yantis’ family has since filed a complaint against Adams County, Sheriff Ryan Zollman and former sheriff’s deputies Brian Wood and Cody Roland. The lawsuit alleges nine counts of Fourth Amendment rights violations, including not only wrongful death but also assault and battery and false imprisonment.

According to federal court documents filed Jan. 13 and 16, Zollman – acting on behalf of Adams County – Wood and Roland responded to the lawsuit by denying the allegations.

For example, Zollman’s attorney maintains that the sheriff was aware Roland and Wood had discussed the fatal shooting but denied allegations that Zollman made no effort to separate the deputies before they gave their statements.

“Any and all conduct on the part of defendants Roland and Wood with respect to the matters alleged in the complaint was lawful, justifiable, and performed within their duties and responsibilities as deputies, in good faith and with the belief that such acts were proper and appropriate,” wrote attorneys representing Roland and Wood.

Roland’s and Wood’s attorneys also requested that the complaint be dismissed. Zollman’s response does not contain that request.

The lawsuit comes just more than a year after Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden decided there was not enough evidence to charge Wood and Roland following a four-month investigation. Roland and Wood have since left the sheriff’s office, while Zollman was re-elected to his post several months after the attorney general’s decision was announced.

Yantis’ rifle went off and the deputies shot at least 14 times and 12 of their bullets hit the rancher.

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