Cops Call Rancher for Help with a Bull and Then Murdered Him — No Charges, Paid Vacation

The killers of Council, Idaho rancher Jack Yantis will soon return to work after being cleared of criminal charges by Idaho Attorney General Larry Wasden.

Nearly ten months have elapsed since Yantis, 62, was cut down by a twelve-shot fusillade alongside Highway 95 after he had been summoned by the Adams County Sheriff’s Office to put down a bull that had been struck by a car. The deputies who responded to the accident, Brian Wood and Cody Roland, shot the bull, but neither was able to kill it. Roland called the sheriff’s dispatch to have Yantis kill the animal.

The collision with the bull occurred early on the evening of November 1. Yantis, his wife Donna, and their friend Rowdy Paradis, arrived on the scene at 7:22 PM. Yantis was armed with a .204 bolt action rifle; Paradis was driving a skid-loader that would be used to haul away the dead bull. Yantis approached the stricken animal, passing Deputy Wood, who was armed with a .223 rifle that had been ineffective in dealing with the bull.

“Get that piece of sh*t away from my animal,” Yantis instructed the deputy, as he approached the bull and lined up a kill-shot near its head. Mrs. Yantis and Mr. Paradis testified that he had chosen an angle that was safe; Wood and Roland – who had been impotently flinging lead at the beast – later claimed that they were worried that the angle Yantis selected potentially endangered people to the south of the accident scene.

All of the witnesses agree that Wood approached Jack as the rancher prepared to fire. Paradis and Mrs. Yantis both claim that he laid hands on the rancher, causing him to turn and stumble. Wood admits reaching toward Yantis, but denies coming in physical contact with him.

“Deputy Wood … told him not to shoot and attempted to stop him,” Roland recounted in his initial handwritten account of the incident. “The owner then shoved Deputy Wood sideways and began to raise the rifle toward Deputy Wood. I drew my sidearm and as I was drawing, the owner turned toward me and fired from the hip. I returned fire… I saw the muzzle blast and felt the shock.”

In his account, Wood claimed that as Yantis lined up the shot at the bull, he was distracted by Roland, and that he “took his rifle and shoved it forward in the direction of Roland directly toward Roland’s chest.” At that point, multiple gunshots were fired.

“His belief at the time was it was Yantis’ rifle that went off because of the motion he saw Yantis make,” summarized a December 9 Idaho State Police investigative report – an account, it should be noted, that was given more than a month after the events.

Several witnesses, including Donna Yantis, say that they heard Roland exclaim, “I’m hit!” He didn’t suffer an injury, nor was there gunpowder residue on his clothing. He opened fire on Yantis, as did Wood, leaving the rancher fatally perforated with a dozen shots.

There was an empty round in the rifle, and what was described as a .20 caliber bullet from Yantis’s gun was later recovered at the scene. The March 2 FBI lab report doesn’t clearly identify that round as one fired by Yantis: It describes the round as “a damaged bullet consisted with .20 caliber, however, due to deformation other calibers could not be excluded.” (Emphasis added.) So there is no physical evidence to corroborate the killers’ account that victim wheeled and opened fire on the deputies.

Undated, handwritten notes from Idaho State Police investigators underscored some contradictions and implausibilities in the deputies’ account. Reference is made to “the progression of the struggle/controlling of the gun,” which indicates there was a hands-on altercation involving Yantis. Roland was asked at one point, “Is there any reason your prints [are] on Yantis rifle,” but the question was struck through by the interviewer.

In an early interview, Roland claimed that Yantis “shoved Wood,” leaving the younger, more muscular deputy with his “left leg up” as he “reached down to grab [the rifle].” This detail appears to have prompted skepticism on the part of one interviewer: “I have a very hard time believing an older man who’s [sic] hips are being held together by a steel girdle” could shove back “a very strong cop moving in with purpose to control a situation.”

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The same investigator noted that there was a “contradiction” about Wood being involved in a “struggle”: “How was there a struggle if Wood was off balance?” In addition, “You both talk about expecting him to stop but both talk about firing as fast as possible.”

“Should we … talk about sympathetic shooting?” the interviewed noted, using a familiar law enforcement term of art often used to justify panicked overkill by officers who unload on a citizen without clearly knowing why.

After unloading multiple rounds into Yantis, Roland sent out a “shots fired” call, and Wood immediately began to perform unnecessary first aid on his colleague. Rise Gail Smith, an EMT from Council, gathered the two deputies into an ambulance, where she witnessed the two of them immediately starting to collaborate on their shared story of the incident.

“I know we are not supposed to talk about this,” Wood told Roland, as Smith – who is familiar with investigative protocol – advised him “not to go too far.” “I just wanted to know if you saw the rifle.”

“I saw the flash, that’s all I saw,” Roland replied, as Smith sharply told them, “That’s it, guys.”

Roland was clearly the first deputy to open fire. In a June 3 interview with two ISP officers and an FBI Special Agent, Roland insisted that he and Yantis “fired almost simultaneously,” that he did not consider Yantis’s firing to be “an accidental discharge,” and that he “intended to shoot Yantis as soon as the rifle was pointed in his direct, “because it was how he was trained and taught.”

Critically, Roland insisted that there was physical contact prior to the shooting – specifically, that he “did not see Wood grab Yantis, [but rather that] Yantis pushed Wood” – in other words, he was reverting to the original, and discredited, story that a crippled senior citizen overpowered a younger, stronger man who has boasted of being trained by the Navy SEALs.

Unlike the assailants, the two eyewitnesses on the scene, Donna Yantis and Rowdy Paradis, have provided a consistent account. Mrs. Yantis described one of the deputies grabbing her husband prior to the shooting. Paradis told investigators that “he saw Jack readying to fire at the bull with his finger on the trigger,” when “the officer with the handgun” – namely, Roland – “grabbed Jack by the vest, pulled him toward the centerline, pushed him away and both officers fired.”

After Jack was fatally shot, the deputies arrested and handcuffed the two eyewitnesses. Mrs. Yantis, her initial trauma at seeing her husband killed in front of her compounded by the unwarranted cruelty of being proned-out and shackled, suffered a heart attack on the scene before being taken away by EMTs.

“Jack went down to shoot the bull – they called,” Mrs. Yantis, 63 at the time of the homicide, weakly testified on video while tethered to an IV in an ambulance immediately after witnessing the homicide. “A cop [came] up and grabbed his arm, and jerked him backwards, and then they shot him, four or six times. They just shot him for no reason.”

Both deputies, Brian Wood and Cody Roland, were equipped with body cameras. Their vehicles were equipped with dashcams. None of them was recording during the five-minute encounter. A truck driver named Kevin J. Darrah claimed to have witnessed the shooting, offering an account closely resembling those of Mrs. Yantis and Mr. Paradis. Darrah described the incident as “absolutely sickening.”

Pages 175-183 of the evidence compiled by the Idaho Attorney General’s office include photocopies of Darrah’s Facebook posts, and comments made in reply to it. Page 176 contains a November 9, 2015 email from ISP Trooper Jason Horst to ISP Detective Kenneth White: “Kenny, please follow up on this.” The page below is a handwritten notation that a single phone call had been made, and he “was not there.” No mention can be found that he was interviewed by investigators, or that a serious effort was made to do so.

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As in all officer-involved shootings, the dead citizen was identified as the “suspect,” and the officers who killed him were designated the “victims.” Unlike common citizens, police officers are presumptively “justified” when they use lethal force, creating a legal burden that is – by design – all but impossible to meet for that rarest of all things, a prosecutor who seeks to hold police accountable for the use of deadly force.

In his letter announcing the eminently predictable decision that the killers of Jack Yantis would face no legal consequences, Idaho Attorney General Wasden recited the familiar Graham v. Connor formula in which officer-inflicted homicides are to be assessed from the perspective of the hypothetical “reasonable officer” on the scene. Under the “calculus of reasonableness” that would be used in an actual criminal trial, greater weight would be given to the self-serving perception of the officer or officers who committed the lethal act.

This creates a legal anomaly akin to 19th century racist laws in Idaho, California, and other western states, under which a person of Chinese, American Indian, or Negro ancestry could not testify against a white man accused of murder. Citizens who are not members of the Blue Tribe are not regarded as competent to assess the lethal actions of their costumed overseers.

Attorney General Wasden, who once tried to imprison a 66-year-old retired nun for the supposed offense of acting as a conscientious juror in a minor narcotics possession case, is not distinguished by his zeal for officer accountability. Thus it came as no surprise when he ruled that “the Justifiable Homicide by Officer statute is ultimately dispositive” in the Yantis case. The Yantis family has filed a notice of tort claim against Adams County, which if successful would require the county’s tax victims to indemnify the actions of two deputies who have never missed a paycheck, and will soon be cleared to resume their duties.

“It is a bit of a comfort for the office and for the department to know that based on the evidence and based on the facts that the officers did their job and weren’t excessive in doing so,” Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman told the Idaho Statesman, confirming that the killers, who had been on “administrative leave” (that is, paid vacation) since gunning down a man they had called for help, would soon be returning to duty.

In a separate interview with Boise ABC affiliate KIVI, Zollman appealed to Yantis’s traumatized family and friends to accept the legal vindication of his killers as a manifestation of the divine will: “I hope and I pray that cool heads will prevail. I’m a man of faith, and I believe nothing happens without a reason. Leave this to a higher power watching over us.”

Sheriff Zollman and his law enforcement colleagues were not content to rely on Providence last January 22 after Deputy Wood, during an incident of domestic violence involving his now-estranged wife, threatened the lives of other officers who might intervene.

“If cops are involved, shots will be fired,” Wood reportedly told a friend named William “Chip” Gallagher, prompting the dissemination of an “officer safety flier.” Wood was described as “a highly trained sniper” believed to have “demolition capabilities and access to explosives” who also suffered from PTSD.

Deputy Wood was perceived as an impermissible threat to fellow members of the state’s punitive priesthood on the basis of something he had said. The fact that he and Roland killed an innocent commoner, however, doesn’t make him an unacceptable risk to the general public.

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  • Vic Bailey

    We MUST weed out the cowards out of our police departments, ASAP. If he were a REAL TRAINED SNIPER he wouldn’t have shot the man 4 or 5 times. Cowards ALWAYS go for their gun FORST! Semper Fi.

  • Shadow_58

    My take on this is, that the citizens of this community need to protest, make phone calls and e-mail the mayor, chief of police and sheriff. Demand the two murderous officers be held accountable and charged with “First Degree Murder”.

  • LibertyFirst

    Murder, sanctioned by those that steal and kill.

  • Sam Fox

    At the Drug War Rant site a long list of cop abuse. I am not for shooting cops. That is wrong.
    Something needs to be done about the growing list of over the line police abuses.
    On a side note, let me please post another story. I am having problems posting at conservative sites, so I must post when I can. I Think my net problems are due to Google & Internet Explorer interference.

    Khizr Khan, it appears, was a setup attack on Trump. I found at the Freedom Post that Khizr is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Clinton Foundation & likes Sharia Law.

    At Freedom Outpost look for

    isalm deception repudiations from American patriots to Khizr Khan

    This does NOT necessarily blow back on Mr. Khizr’s heroic son. Just the Crooked Hillary mouthpiece.

    Thanks every one!

    SamFox

    It took 1/2 an hr or so to get this posted.

  • marlene

    Another cold blooded murder of another rancher by “law”less enforcement. So which bureaucrat in DC wants his ranch – Reid or Hillary? Idaho sucks, the state that terrorized a 5 year old girl after she was traumatized by being raped by a rabid muslim. I’ve read that the Boise has the 4th worst water supply in the country, so maybe it spread to Adams County. Is that what’s turned its elected and unelected bureaucrats into monsters?

    • marlene

      Three eyewitnesses whose stories corroborated and 2 lying deputies with inconsistent accounts of their crime – and one dead rancher and 2 wives handcuffed! Like Deputy Wood said, if cops are involved shots will be fired. No provocation, no real threat and without an ounce of truth, these vile killers live to kill another day. If Wood was a “highly trained sniper” then this was NOT an accident! This isn’t over. Too many lies covering too many other lies and it’s way too transparent to be credible. Wood’s an out of control killer who threatened the lives of other officers, yet he was allowed to remain in his job WITH a gun! There are a whole lot of felony criminals in this department with badges they don’t deserve and uniforms that should be exchanged for orange ones.

      • Shadow_58

        I doubt very seriously Wood is a highly trained sniper. Most snipers will not tell others about their ability with a rifle or handgun. Most snipers will not even talk about it to the general public. Most snipers practice in secret and display their skills in secret.

        • marlene

          I agree. Wood “was described” as a sniper. Probably to lend some justification for his actions that because he “knew” what he was doing, it was the right thing to do.

  • yennikcm

    RIP..Lavoy………RIP..Jack

  • MA in MO

    My take on this is that we are being prepared to accept any and all decisions by government officials, without question, without resistance, without a whimper. If we the citizen makes one slight move to not fully obey then we will be shot. The stupidity of those in charge gets worse and worse every day.

  • lloyd Lisco

    The Criminal cop’s at work again and the people will do nothing to stop this, The few good Cop’s Are afraid to tell the truth because they will be placed in danger along with their families by the criminal cops and their Criminal bosses. Our police departments are Dens of militarized corruption and Criminality. You are more likely to be killed or injured by a corrupt cop than any gang member or thug.

  • anarchyst

    Ever notice that police unions are “fraternal”? This should tell you something. The “thin-blue-line” is a gang, little different than street gangs–at least when it comes to “covering-up” their questionable and quite often, illegal and criminal behavior.
    In today’s day and age, “officer safety” trumps de-escalation of force. This, in part, is due to the militarization of the police along with training in Israeli police tactics. This becomes a problem, with the “us vs. them” attitude that is fosters, along with the fact that Israel is a very different place, being on a constant “war footing”, and by necessity, its police tactics are very different.
    There are too many instances of police being “given a pass”, even when incontrovertible video and audio evidence is presented. Grand juries, guided by police-friendly prosecutors, quite often refuse to charge those police officers who abuse their authority.
    Police officers, who want to do the right thing, are quite often marginalized and put into harms way, by their own brethren…When a police officer is beating on someone that is already restrained while yelling, “stop resisting” THAT is but one reason police have a “bad name” in many instances…this makes the “good cops” who are standing around, witnessing their “brethren in blue” beating on a resrained suspect, culpable as well…
    Here are changes that can help reduce police-induced violence:
    1. Get rid of police unions. Police unions (fraternities) protect the guilty, and are responsible for the massive whitewashing of questionable police behavior that is presently being committed.
    2. Eliminate both “absolute” and “qualified” immunity for all public officials. This includes, prosecutors and judges, police and firefighters, code enforcement and child protective services officials, and others who deal with the citizenry. The threat of being sued personally would encourage them to behave themselves. Require police officers to be “bonded” by an insurance company, with their own funds. No bond= no job.
    3. Any public funds disbursed to citizens as a result of police misconduct should come out of police pension funds–NOT from the taxpayers.
    4. Regular drug-testing of police officers as well as incident-based drug testing should take place whenever an officer is involved in a violent situation with a citizen–no exceptions.
    5. Testing for steroid use should be a part of the drug testing program. You know damn well, many police officers “bulk up” with the “help” of steroids. Steroids also affect users mentally as well, making them more aggressive. The potential for abuse of citizens increases greatly with steroid use.
    6. Internal affairs should only be used for disagreements between individual officers–NOT for investigations involving citizen abuse. State-level investigations should be mandatory for all suspected abuses involving citizens.
    7. Prosecutors should be charged with malfeasance IF any evidence implicating police officer misconduct is not presented to the grand jury.
    8. A national or state-by-state database of abusive individuals who should NEVER be allowed to perform police work should be established–a “blacklist” of abusive (former) police officers.
    9. Most people are unaware that police have special “rules” that prohibit them from being questioned for 48 hours. This allows them to “get their stories straight” and makes it easier to “cover up” bad police behavior. Police must be subject to the same laws as civilians.
    10. All police should be required to wear bodycams and utilize dashcams that cannot be turned off. Any police officers who causes a dash or body cam to be turned off should be summarily fired–no excuses. Today’s body and dash cams are reliable enough to withstand harsh treatment. Body and dashcam footage should be uploaded to a public channel “on the cloud” for public perusal.
    11. All interrogations must be video and audio recorded. Police should be prohibited from lying or fabricating stories in order to get suspects to confess. False confessions ARE a problem in many departments. Unknown to most people, police can lie with impunity while civilians can be charged with lying to police…fair? I think not…
    12. Any legislation passed that restricts the rights of ordinary citizens, such as firearms magazine capacity limits, types of weapons allowed, or restrictive concealed-carry laws should apply equally to police. No special exemptions to be given to police. Laws must be equally applied.
    Police work is not inherently dangerous…there are many other professions that are much more dangerous.
    A little “Andy Taylor” could go a long way in allaying fears that citizens have of police.
    That being said, I have no problem with police officers who do their job in a fair, conscientious manner…however, it is time to call to task those police officers who only “protect and serve” themselves.