BOISE – A judge has dismissed a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of an Idaho rancher who was fatally shot by deputies in a dispute that occurred after one of his bulls was hit by a car.
The judge tossed the lawsuit Tuesday after an apparent settlement was reached between the family of rancher Jack Yantis, Adams County, its sheriff and the two deputies.
Widow Donna Yantis said Wednesday she couldn’t comment about specifics of the case.
However, she said the end of the legal action didn’t bring closure. “No amount of money can replace him,” she said of her husband.
Jack Yantis, 62, was killed in 2015 after one of his 2,500-pound bulls was struck by a car and then charged emergency crews on a highway near the tiny town of Council.
Yantis arrived with a rifle just as deputies decided to put down the animal. Authorities have said there was an altercation, and Yantis and the two deputies all fired their weapons.
Two years ago, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden decided there was not enough evidence to charge deputies Brian Wood and Cody Roland. Both later left the sheriff’s office.
The lawsuit filed last year named Adams County, Sheriff Ryan Zollman and the deputies as defendants. It alleged nine violations of the Fourth Amendment right to due process, including wrongful death, assault and battery, and false imprisonment.
Zollman didn’t return a call Wednesday, and the county declined to comment. Attorneys for the defendants and the family also didn’t return calls.
The lawsuit says Jack Yantis had received a call from an Adams County sheriff’s dispatcher asking him to help with the bull that had been struck. His wife, Donna Yantis, nephew Rowdy Paradis and a family friend all went to the highway.
The lawsuit said Jack Yantis stood behind the bull with his rifle aimed at the back of the animal’s head before Roland pulled him backward.
Yantis’ rifle went off, and the deputies shot at least 14 times, with 12 bullets hitting the rancher, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit maintains that Jack Yantis posed no threat and that deputies didn’t ask him to put down his rifle or make any other requests, commands or warnings.
The lawsuit also said the deputies arrested Donna Yantis and Rowdy Paradis. It accuses Wood of placing the barrel of his AR-15 to the back of Paradis’ head. Donna Yantis had a heart attack at the scene and spent more than two weeks in a hospital.
The Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, which insures local governments, declined to comment about a possible settlement without a public records request.
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