In the last several months, police shootings of African Americans nationwide made headlines. But one particular killing of a white Idaho rancher quickly brought police violence into focus from a fresh perspective.
Early this month, two sheriff’s deputies shot dead Jack Yantis, a rancher who came at the accident scene after his bull was hit and injured by a car. The circumstances of the shooting are unclear.
We do know from witnesses that the animal was extremely nervous and started charging as cops as they tried to get the injured driver and passenger out of the vehicle. Yantis’ wife, Donna, who suffered a heart attack on the scene is now recovered and has a different story to tell.
On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that it launched an investigation into the shooting. The Idaho State Police also said that it would perform a separate investigation. The attorney general’s office pledged to ‘carefully review all the evidence,’ but reaching a conclusion would take time.
Yantis’s case is different from recent police shootings. He was white not African-American or Hispanic, and a respected local businessman, rather than a member of a gang. Plus, he lived in a small community where everyone knew just about everyone.
But friends admitted that Yantis had a strong character. And Idaho criminal records showed it. In 1997, he was found guilty of misdemeanor for obstructing police officers, while five years later he was taken into custody for driving under influence. But, his family said that his criminal record had nothing to do with his tragic death. Overzealous law enforcement officers had.
Yantis’s nephew said that officers should try harder to ‘de-escalate situations.’ He said that he saw the shooting from a distance of 10 feet, and the deputies clearly escalated the situation.
On Nov. 1, at 6:45 p.m. Yantis was called by a dispatcher to the accident scene. One of his bulls was involved in a car crash on the interstate. A Subaru station wagon hit the animal, put it down but not out. The 2,500-pound bull was reportedly very aggressive towards deputies and emergency crews that arrived at the scene.
Yantis was asked to put the animal down. While he was on his way to the scene, deputies opened fire on the raging animal. One witness recalls that it sounded like the World War III. When the rancher approached the animal it is unclear whether the bull was dead. The rancher’s wife brought him a riffle to finish the job.
But in the meantime something happened. One of the deputies must have pushed Yantis and the riffle went off. Seconds later the man was dead on the ground.
Ms. Yantis recalls that she and her nephew were threatened and handcuffed by deputies. They weren’t allowed to take care of her injured husband. Sadly, neither the dashcams nor the body cameras were on when the incident happened.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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