Donna Yantis breaks her silence

Posted at 7:22 AM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 09:22:33-05

Donna Yantis is still processing it all.

Processing life after her husband’s death. Processing her own health. Processing an uncertain future. 

“Mostly, I worry about whether we will get the justice for what the police department did,” Donna said during a conversation with On Your Side at Jack's brothers home in Council.

Donna is recovering slowly from a heart attack she suffered following the deadly shooting of her husband Jack Yantis which made national headlines. The investigation into the actions of two Adams County deputies has involved multiple agencies including the FBI.

“They’re not here to serve us. They are just patrolling to just pick up anyone for anything. It’s not right,” Donna said about the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. “They’re not here to protect us. They’re not here to serve us.  It’s wrong.”

With her health stabilized, she is emotionally charged.  During our interview Donna broke down on multiple occasions when remembering Jack. Donna had to miss her husband’s funeral while she recovered in the hospital. She did hear how the community of Council is also shaken by Jack’s death but showed up to support her family.

The small town is not used to this type of attention.

Weeks after the incident, TV crews patrolled the streets looking for answers. Phone calls flooded the sheriff’s office causing Sheriff Ryan Zollman to take his kids out of school, because he feared for their safety.

In a heated town hall meeting on November 11th, Council residents grilled the Sheriff about why the names of the deputies were not released to the public. After nearly 45 minutes of questioning several residents stormed out visibly shaken and angry.

A month later the sheriff’s office released the names of the two deputies involved in the incident. Cody Roland and Brian Wood were identified, with a statement from Sheriff Zollman:

“Out of concern for the safety of the two deputies involved in this incident and the desire for a fair and impartial investigation to be conducted, I have been hesitant to release the names. I still have concerns about threats made against the deputies but, at this time I believe that it is the right thing to do,” said Sheriff Ryan Zollman. “I sincerely hope that our deputies and their families will be safe and that the citizens here in Adams County and others throughout the country will reserve judgment in this incident until the investigation is finished.”

For Donna, the support of her community keeps her focused.

“The community wants justice. That’s our main objective. Justice. Somebody’s gotta pay for what they did.  It was murder,” she said.

Details of what happened to Jack Yantis have been far and few in-between.

The Idaho State Police wrote an initial report to the media:

“The events that transpired over the course of the next few minutes are under investigation but, at this time, it is believed that two deputies and Mr. Yantis all fired their weapons.”

In an interview with the Idaho Statesman, Jack Yantis’ nephew, Rowdy Paradis explained how deputies attempted to shoot a wounded bull that had been involved in an accident. A Subaru had hit the bull severely injuring two motorists and the bull.

The Yantis family says Jack was contacted by Adams County dispatch to take care of the animal. Upon arriving the family says the bull was in the roadway but hadn’t been put down by deputies.

Jack Yanits had a rifle in his hands to shoot the bull. That’s when family members say a scuffle occurred, guns were fired, and Jack was shot.

Donna ran toward Jack at the scene and suffered a heart attack. She was taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise where she remain hospitalized for weeks.

Idaho State Police opened an investigation and Idaho State Attorney Lawrence Wasden was appointed as guest prosecutor.  The FBI also opened an investigation. Both remain open as agencies look for answers.

For Donna, the support she has received for her deceased husband has been overwhelming.

“People have told me all of the things people have been doing. The marchers and things like that which are great,” Donna said. “It feels good that there is people out there supporting us for the cause of justice that we don’t even know.  Thank you to everybody.”

A Gofundme page has been set up to help the family.