Idaho LEO in viral LeBron TikTok signs book deal, keeps job

Deputy Nate Silvester says he has returned to work after a week's suspension — and has a new book deal


By Ian Max Stevenson
The Idaho Statesman

BELLEVUE, Idaho — The deputy marshal in the small Idaho town of Bellevue whose TikTok videos done in uniform have been seen by millions has signed a book deal and is returning to work, according to a new video.

Nate Silvester posted a TikTok video on Wednesday saying he had been suspended "for a week" and was under contract to write a book about police officers that is set to be released in September.

"I signed a book deal yesterday, the working title of which is 'Never Off Duty,'" Silvester said in the video. "The whole point of my TikTok account is to humanize the badge." Silvester told KTVB-TV that his book deal is with Di Angelo Publications.

Silvester received outsize attention after posting a TikTok video on April 24 in which he pretends to talk to NBA superstar LeBron James on the phone while a stabbing occurs outside his police vehicle. The mocking video is an apparent reference to a tweet posted by James after police in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed a 16-year-old named Ma'Khia Bryant on April 20, shortly before Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.

James later deleted the tweet, which included a photo of a Columbus police officer and read, "You're next. #accountability."

In his TikTok video, Silvester, who is in uniform, doesn't intercede with "deadly force" in the imaginary stabbing after having a pretend conversation with James, during which Silvester says, "so you don't care if a Black person kills another Black person, but you do care if a white cop kills a Black person, even if he's doing it to save the life of another Black person?"

The teenage girl killed in Columbus had a knife and was show on video attacking another girl, according to police.

As of Thursday afternoon, Silvester's video has been viewed 5.6 million times.

In a Facebook post on April 27, the Bellevue Marshal's Office said that the video was being "dealt with internally."

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

"The statements made do NOT represent the Bellevue Marshal's Office," read the post. " The Bellevue Marshal's Office always demands that our Deputies engage with our citizens in a friendly and professional manner. This is NOT how we expect our Deputies to act on duty or use city time."

A GoFundMe page was created for Silvester, which states that he was suspended without pay. By Thursday afternoon, the account had raised nearly $500,000.

The Bellevue Marshal's Office and the mayor of Bellevue, Ned Burns, did not return calls and emails on Thursday from the Statesman asking for comment. Silvester did not respond to a Facebook message from the Statesman asking for comment.

Burns told the Idaho Mountain Express that a formal complaint had been filed against Silvester, but he will keep his job.

Since the video's posting, Silvester has been interviewed on television, including by conservative commentator Glenn Beck on Wednesday.

"So far I still have a job, I am supposed to return to work tomorrow," Silvester said on Beck's show. "They did want to fire me, but lucky for me I have a very common-sense, loyal marshal who went to bat for me. ... The suspension wasn't great, but I still have a job, so that's good."

On Tuesday, in a separate TikTok video, Silvester said, "I've been asked a few different times ... if I think I should apologize. My answer? Unequivocally, hell no."

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

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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