Fundraiser for Idaho officer who mocked LeBron James on TikTok gets $291K in donations
Jacob Scholl, Idaho Statesman
Published at | Updated at
BELLEVUE (Idaho Statesman) — An Idaho deputy marshal is racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations after he was reportedly suspended following a viral video on TikTok that mocked LeBron James over a police shooting.
Bellevue city officials have yet to say whether the deputy was suspended, but a GoFundMe page for an account established on behalf of Nate Silvester says he was. The account had reached near $300,000 in donations as of Saturday morning. The page does not say if he is still employed by the department.
Calls and an email to Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns and emails to Bellevue Marshal Mynde Heil were not immediately returned Friday. A Facebook message and email to Silvester was also not immediately returned.
Burns told the Idaho Mountain Express in Ketchum that at least one formal complaint was filed by a citizen against Silvester. Burns told the newspaper he could not say whether the deputy was suspended.
Idaho State Police, which oversees the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training division, said Friday that Silvester was not under POST investigation.
Included in the GoFundMe account are three videos of Silvester thanking those who donated. In one, Silvester says he wants people to stand up on behalf of law enforcement officers.
“We’re not going to tolerate being attacked or bullied or vilified in the media anymore,” Silvester said.
Last week, Silvester posted a video on TikTok criticizing James over comments the Los Angeles Laker made after a police shooting in Ohio. James tweeted “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY” after a police officer in Columbus, Ohio fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who is Black. The tweet was also in reference to Derek Chauvin, the police officer who was convicted of killing George Floyd in Minneapolis.
After the Columbus shooting, police released a body camera video that appeared to show Bryant attacking another Black person with a knife.
James later deleted his tweet. He has since been scrutinized by police groups. During an interview with Fox News, Jamie McBride, a member of the board of the Los Angeles police union, called on the NBA to investigate James.
In Silvester’s viral video, he is sitting in the driver’s seat of his patrol car and asks an imaginary person outside the car to put down a knife and not to stab another person before he pretends to get a call from James. The NBA star tells him not to shoot the assailant because he is Black.
“I mean, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then again, you’re really good at basketball, so I guess I’ll take your word for it,” Silvester says before driving away.
After the video gathered several million views, the Bellevue Marshal’s Office said in a statement Tuesday that Silvester’s statements, “do NOT represent the Bellevue Marshal’s Office.” The marshal’s office added it was handling the matter internally, and Silvester’s actions are not how the office expects for deputies to act on duty or on city time.
“The Bellevue Marshal’s Office always demands that our deputies engage with our citizens in a friendly and professional manner,” the department said in the statement.”
Silvester previously posted numerous other videos on his TikTok page, including a video where he ignores what appears to be an imaginary fight occurring outside of his patrol car, with the phrase “when a pedophile is about to get his a** beat” visible on the screen.
In two videos, Silvester defends Kim Potter, a former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer who was charged with second-degree manslaughter after the death of Daunte Wright. Potter reportedly confused her gun with her Taser prior to the shooting.
As of Friday, Silvester’s video about James had over 5.1 million views.