Deputy who mocked LeBron James is fired for 'continued policy violations'

The termination had nothing to do with Nate Silvester's TikTok videos, said the town's mayor

By Jacob Scholl
The Idaho Statesman

BELLEVUE, Idaho — An Idaho law enforcement officer who gained notoriety for his TikTok videos has been fired from his job.

In a Facebook post Thursday morning, Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns wrote that Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester was terminated from the Bellevue City Marshal's Office for "continued policy violations."

According to Burns, Silvester violated "several" city and state policies on policing during the week of May 20. Because of previous policy violations, Silvester had been placed on a "last chance agreement" with his commanding officers.

"Because of his continued policy violations, the Marshal has terminated Mr. Sylvester effective May 27th, 2021," Burns wrote.

The mayor said Silvester's termination had nothing to do with his online posts that first landed him in the public eye.

"He was not terminated for the content of his speech; he was terminated for his failure to follow clearly laid out and well established policy," Burns wrote.

[READ: Public employee speech and consequence of unlawful action]

The decision to fire Silvester was not made by the mayor or city council, but rather by the Bellevue Marshal's Office. Burns wrote that he and the council are supportive of the decision made by City Marshal Mynde Heil.

Silvester gained notoriety after a video he posted to TikTok, a social media platform, was viewed millions of times. In it, Silvester is in his police uniform and sitting in his patrol car while he criticizes NBA star LeBron James by pretending to take a call from James.

The Los Angeles Laker tweeted a photo of Columbus, Ohio, police officer Nicholas Reardon after the officer fatally shot 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant, who is Black, four times. In the since-deleted tweet, James wrote, "YOU'RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY."

The tweet appeared to reference the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murder for killing George Floyd. The verdict came just a day before the Ohio police shooting.

After Silvester's video went viral on social media, the Bellevue Marshal's Office issued a statement about the deputy's opinions online.

"The statements made do NOT represent the Bellevue Marshal's Office," the April 27 Facebook post read. " The Bellevue Marshal's Office always demands that our deputies engage with our citizens in a friendly and professional manner."

Silvester was suspended from the department for several days without pay, prompting a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money for the deputy. As of Thursday, the GoFundMe web page had surpassed $520,000 in donations.

Silvester posted several times online thanking supporters for the donations, and later said he landed a book deal. According to his TikTok page, the book deal is through Di Angelo Publications.

Silvester started posting on TikTok in December 2020, and he has continued to post on TikTok since his first suspension. In one post, Silvester is in uniform when 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 Silvester's latest video on TikTok, he shows a video in which gunshots can be heard at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis near where Floyd was killed. Silvester ends the video saying: "I can't think of a more fitting way to celebrate the memory of a career criminal than to have a shootout in the middle of a public street."

NEXT: State your case: Is it time to lighten up on forbidding officers from speaking out?

(c)2021 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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