An Idaho marshal’s deputy is under investigation after posting a video online last week mocking NBA star LeBron James for targeting an Ohio officer who fatally shot a teen attempting to stab another.
The Bellevue Marshal’s Office posted a statement to Facebook on Tuesday condemning Deputy Nate Silvester for a TikTok mocking James. The law enforcement officer had filmed a mock disturbance call during which he asked James for permission to intervene in an imaginary knife fight between two black men.
“The Bellevue Marshal’s Office is aware of the extreme controversy regarding Deputy Marshal Silvester’s viral TikTok. The statements made do NOT represent the Bellevue Marshal’s Office. 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. This is a personnel issue that is being dealt with internally,” the marshal’s office said. “We would like to thank everyone that took the time to reach out to us. We greatly value our relationship within our wonderful community.”
The video shows Silvester sitting in his squad car while speaking with an imaginary James on his cellphone. Throughout the conversation, Silvester appears to ask a black man to stop attempting to stab another black man. The imaginary James forbids Silvester from intervening in the fight.
“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?” Silvester says in the video. “I mean it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then again you are really good at basketball, so I guess I’ll take your word for it.”
James posted, then deleted, a tweet targeting an Ohio police officer last week after the officer fatally shot a black 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant. The officer shot the teen as she lunged at another girl with a knife. Law enforcement experts have said the shoot with “legally justified” as the officer stepped in to prevent a potentially fatal stabbing and protect the life of another.
“My first impression is that the officer was legally justified in using deadly force,” Bowling Green State University criminal justice professor Philip Stinson said of the officer’s actions.
“It’s a terribly tragic situation, and my heart goes out to the girl and her family and friends,” he said. “But from looking at the video, it appears to me that a reasonable police officer would have had a reasonable apprehension of an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death being imposed against an officer or someone else. That’s the legal standard.”
James had posted a photo of the officer with the caption “YOU’RE NEXT” and an emoji of an hourglass. The pro athlete added, “#ACCOUNTABILITY.” The tweet was posted after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd during an arrest last year.
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