Bonners Ferry police chief kills man while off duty

Investigation of shooting in Custer County ongoing

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

A fatal shooting incident in south-central Idaho involving an off-duty officer on Aug. 1 has ties to the state’s panhandle. In a statement Aug. 13, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office identified the officer involved as Bonners Ferry Police Chief Brian Zimmerman.

According to a press release from Custer County, 73-year-old Boise man Russell V. Liddell “confronted” a group of 16 to 18 people near the Tin Cup Campground in the Salmon-Challis National Forest west of the town of Challis.

“A verbal altercation between Liddell and members of the group ensued, resulting in shots that were fired,” the release reads. “A member of the group, off-duty Bonners Ferry Police Chief Brian Zimmerman, fired rounds that struck Liddell resulting in his death.”

Law enforcement received a 911 call around 10:30 p.m.

Agencies involved in the investigation include sheriff’s departments from Custer, Bonneville, Bingham and Fremont counties; the Eastern Idaho Critical Task Force; Idaho Falls Police Department; and Idaho State Police.

In an Aug. 13 press release posted to the Bonners Ferry Police Department Facebook page, city officials stated that they were “aware” of the Aug. 1 shooting, and said Zimmerman “returned fire after being fired upon.” A spokesman for the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office told the Idaho Mountain Express that the information about being “fired upon” appeared to come from Zimmerman himself, and that “it wouldn’t be appropriate to speculate that” as the investigation is ongoing.

“Chief Zimmerman made City administration aware of the incident shortly after it occurred,” Bonners Ferry officials stated, “and the City does not feel that administrative leave or other personnel action by the City of Bonners Ferry is necessary at this time as Chief Zimmerman’s actions were in no way related to his employment with the City of Bonners Ferry.”

As of 7 p.m. on Aug. 17, BFPD officials confirmed to the Reader that, “Chief Zimmerman is not currently on administrative leave.”

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