Bellevue deputy marshal facing scrutiny for LeBron James video sees GoFundMe windfall
By Eric Valentine
Bellevue Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester’s viral TikTok video, wherein he pretends to ask for LeBron James’ advice on how to handle an altercation between a black male attacking another black male with a knife, made national news and controversy last week. But this week it’s making him a lot of money, too.
As with many controversial matters wherein someone could lose their job, supporters have been contributing to a GoFundMe page launched late last week by Gannon Ward of Sandy City, Utah. Ward, who states that Silvester is his “best friend in the world,” has set a goal of raising $500,000 for the deputy marshal.
“He’s still got his job for now, but apparently the town where he polices didn’t find his TikTok as amazingly comical, and accurate, as the 4.5 million viewers did, including some major news networks,” wrote Ward on the GoFundMe page. “The future is uncertain. I just don’t want to see my friend lose out on any money for this, when it was meant to be satirical, and to point out an obvious flaw in LeBron’s logic.”
What is certain is this: As of press deadline Tuesday, the effort had garnered $438,000
To be clear, the City of Bellevue has not confirmed Silvester’s suspension without pay.
“He has not been terminated. He was disciplined within the department, and that’s an internal personnel issue, so there won’t be any further comment beyond that,” Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns said.
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It should also be noted that at least one GoFundMe page related to the Silvester matter has been taken down. It was launched by an organizer by the name of Eric Smallwood and it was asking for donations toward giving better radios to officers.
Meanwhile, another online effort is gaining steam, a Change.org petition that wants to see the deputy marshal’s GoFundMe earnings taken away. According to the petitioners, Silvester has a longer history of controversial videos done while in uniform. Specifically, they cite the following from Silvester’s account:
● Silvester defends Kim Potter, a former Minnesota police officer who was charged with second-degree manslaughter after the death of Daunte Wright. Potter said she confused her gun with her taser.
● Silvester ignores 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.
● According to a report from Newsweek, an Instagram account that appeared to belong to Silvester featured a video showing people lying in a street before depicting the inside of a car going over multiple bumps. The caption reportedly said “Me and the boys on our way to the (former President Donald) Trump rally.”
The petition, which as of press deadline Tuesday had 2,725 signatures, claims the fundraising effort violates GoFundMe’s transparency requirements and that the campaign is “out of synch with the company’s own pledge” to support justice and equality made in the weeks following George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police.
Whether the campaign violates GoFundMe’s terms of service is not entirely clear. As funds came pouring in, Silvester made a thank-you video and said a portion of the funds will go toward a charity. In addition, the GoFundMe page lists the First Responders Children’s Foundation as potential recipients. Ward confirmed that 100% of the funds will go to Silvester’s personal bank account, and from there he can donate as he wishes.
According to the foundation’s website, its mission is to provide “financial support to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty as well as families enduring significant financial hardship due to tragic circumstances.” First Responders Children’s Foundation also supports, promotes and facilitates educational activities and programs created and operated by first-responder organizations whose purpose is to benefit children or the community at large, the organization says.
And There’s This …
According to “Newsweek” and several other media reports, Silvester was one of four Twins Falls police officers involved in a fatal shooting of Randy J. Holler, Jr., in 2009. Holler was armed and struggled with the officers. He did not fire his pistol but the police said he was “sweeping” and pointing his gun at them. They shot him 17 times.
All the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing after being put on administrative leave and going through psychological evaluations. It should also be noted that the Change.org petition describes Holler as black. According to Ward, Holler was caucasion. None of the media reports state Holler’s race.