The Eastern Idaho Officer Involved Shooting Report, released this morning, appears to confirm that Bonners Ferry Police Chief Brian Zimmerman acted in self-defense in the August 1 shooting of Russell Liddell, 74, Eagle, Idaho, and that his quick action likely saved the lives of many of those he was with that night.
Liddell died at the scene, tended by Brian’s wife, nurse Roberta Zimmerman, and another in their party.
The report was delivered this morning to Custer County, Idaho, Prosecutor Justin Oleson, who was not available to say whether any charges would be filed. Because the decision had not been made, Zimmerman did not comment.
According to the report, Zimmerman and 17 family members and friends, in their sixth day of an eight-day UTV trip, arrived at the Tin Cup Campground on the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Custer County, Idaho, at about 4 p.m. and began setting up camp.
Some in the party went to a nearby creek to fish, others set about fixing dinner and they were later gathered around the fire, talking.
At about 10:15 p.m., a blue Dodge Ram pickup pulled into the campground and stopped and idled for several minutes. It then pulled past the main group, then spent several minutes trying to back up, the truck’s headlights shining directly into the tent of two members of the party who’d already turned in.
Thinking the driver needed help, Roberta approached, and the driver, later identified as Liddell, told her they were in his camping spot, and then began ranting and cursing about “Californians coming here,” though Roberta told him they were from North Idaho.
Growing more agitated, he then backed up out of the campsite … then pulled back in, going the opposite direction around the circle. He stopped again, lights shining into the same tent.
Brian, hearing about the exchange, retrieved his sidearm. He and two others went to the pickup to see if the driver needed anything. When they were about 20-feet away, Liddell, cursing, came out of the pickup, stumbling and nearly falling down, then turned back and began rummaging inside.
Zimmerman and both with him reported hearing the slide of a pistol being racked, and Zimmerman took his sidearm, a Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol, from his pocket and held it along his leg.
Liddell then turned, firing two shots, one shot shattering the watch Brian was wearing. Zimmerman returned fire, firing until Liddell was down, then went over and secured the firearm Liddell had fired as Roberta and another of their party, a former paramedic, went to provide medical assistance.
Neither found a pulse.
Chris Yount, an ISP Trooper traveling with the party, took control of both weapons used and later turned them over to investigators.
A member of the party drove to a nearby ranch and called the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, and a Custer County deputy and an Idaho State Police Trooper arrived on scene at about 1:44 a.m.