- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

COUNCIL, Idaho (AP) - Authorities released the names of two sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed an Idaho rancher last month after one of his bulls was hit by a car and charged emergency crews.

Cody Rolland, 38, has been a full-time deputy with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office since July. Brian Wood, 31, has been with the sheriff’s office since June 2013. Sheriff Ryan Zollman said he had been hesitant to release their names, citing concern for their safety and the need for an impartial investigation.

“I still have concerns about threats made against the deputies, but at this time, I believe that it is the right thing to do,” Zollman said in a statement late Monday.

The deputies shot Jack Yantis, 62, after an altercation Nov. 1 on a highway just north of the tiny town of Council, authorities say. The deputies planned to shoot the injured bull when the rancher arrived with a rifle. Investigators say all of them fired their weapons.

Yantis’ family members, some of whom said they witnessed the shooting, have called his death unjustified and said the deputies escalated the situation. They have said Yantis was aiming his rifle at the bull’s head when one of the deputies grabbed him from behind and then the rifle may have fired accidentally.

Releasing the names is “the first step toward accountability and justice,” Paul Winward, an attorney for the family, told the Idaho Statesman (https://bit.ly/1NFXEC6 ).

An attorney for the deputies disputes the family’s allegations.

“Suffice it to say, we have reviewed the Yantis family members’ version of events and they are not accurate in numerous material respects,” Nampa lawyer Kevin Dinius told the newspaper.

Idaho State Police are investigating and have declined to comment on what led up to the shooting. The FBI also is conducting a separate inquiry. Federal authorities are involved because of allegations the deputies used excessive force, which would violate U.S. laws, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said.

The Idaho attorney general and the U.S. Attorney’s Office would independently decide whether to file charges.

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