CUSTER COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Custer County Sheriff's Office has released more information regarding a law enforcement officer-involved shooting incident involving Russell Liddell, 74, from Eagle, Idaho that took place on August 1, 2020, at the Tin Cup Campground in Custer County.
You can read the full synopsis below.
Synopsis of Incident:
On August 1, 2020, off-duty Bonners Ferry Police Chief Brian Zimmerman along with seventeen family members and friends were camping in Tin Cup Campground located in Custer County, Idaho. Chief Zimmerman and the group were on their sixth day of an eight-day Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) trip. The UTV trek involved more than 750 miles traveled. The trek involved camping in tents or staying in hotels for seven nights. On August 1st, the group traveled from Challis, ID to Tin Cup Campground. To get from
Challis to Tin Cup Campground the group traveled to the town of Custer, up the Yankee Fork River drainage to the campground.
The group arrived at Tin Cup Campground at approximately 1600 hrs. Upon arriving, each couple set up their own tent and got camp in order. There was some downtime and some individuals in the group went to a nearby creek to go fishing. After dinner, most of the members of the group hung out near the fire, and were reminiscing and telling stories. Some members of the group had split off and went to bed.
At approximately 2215 hrs. a blue Dodge Ram 2500 pickup bearing Idaho license plate 1A P706T pulled into the campground. The pickup stopped and idled for several minutes causing the group to question what the pickup was doing and if the driver was looking for someone. The pickup pulled past the main camp and up to a circular turn around, approximately 60 yards to the southwest of the main group. On the far southwest portion of the circle turn around, was where a tent belonging to Ted and Terali Stonehocker was located. Both Ted and Terali were inside their tent when the vehicle pulled into the circle turnaround. The pickup drove within feet of the tent before trying to back up. The headlights shone directly into Ted and Terali's tent.
According to witnesses, the pickup tried to back up for some time before Roberta Zimmerman approached the driver. Roberta stated she went over initially to see if the driver needed help backing up since it was dark. Roberta stated when she spoke with the driver (who was later identified as Russell Liddell), he told her they were in his camping spot and asked where they were from. Roberta stated she told Russell they were from northern Idaho. According to Roberta, Russell appeared agitated and upset they were camping in his "spot". Roberta walked back to the rest of the group by the campfire and explained how her interaction with Liddell had gone.
Ted Stonehocker reported while Roberta was speaking to Liddell, he came out of his tent and went over to see what the problem was. Ted reported Liddell was very upset. Several members of the group overheard Liddell make a comment similar to, "All you fuckin Californians coming up here with your God damn fancy toys". Ted reported Russell smelled like alcohol.
Ted reported the conversation with Liddell did not go well. Ted reported telling Liddell he needed to leave or he would run him off with a 41.
Liddell told Ted that he had a .45. Ted walked back towards his tent and Liddell began backing the vehicle again. The Dodge pickup backed far enough down the road it could turn up the opposite way on the circle turn around. The pickup drove around the circle, approximately 20 yards, and stopped with its headlights shining back toward Ted and Terali's tent.
Meanwhile, Chief Zimmerman, having heard about the interaction between Roberta and Liddell had gone to his UTV and retrieved his Glock 22 .40 caliber pistol and concealed it in his shorts pocket.
Zimmerman was not aware of the conversation Ted had with Liddell. Zimmerman, Tim Green, and Fred Nystrom walked toward the Dodge pickup to see if there was a problem with the driver.
Zimmerman reported the pickup's window was down and Liddell was sitting in the driver's seat. The three men were approximately 20 feet away from the pickup. Zimmerman asked the driver what was going on or what they could help him with. According to Zimmerman, Liddell mumbled something but other than the mumble he did not acknowledge him. Zimmerman reported he asked Liddell if he would watch his language, because of the profanity he used when speaking to Roberta and Ted. Liddell opened the driver's door and exited the vehicle.
Zimmerman, Nystrom, and Green all reported when the male got out of the truck Liddell stumbled and nearly fell down. All three reported Liddell showed signs of physical impairment.
After exiting the pickup, Liddell opened the driver's side back passenger door and began looking for something inside. Liddell was standing with his back toward Zimmerman, Green, and Nystrom. All three men heard the sound of a slide of a semi-automatic pistol being racked, Zimmerman reported when he heard the racking of the pistol he removed his pistol from his pocket and held it alongside his leg.
Liddell began turning counter-clockwise toward Zimmerman, Nystrom, and Green. While turning Liddell fired two shots. Zimmerman, having already removed his pistol from his pocket fired back at Liddell.
Zimmerman believed he had fired five rounds at Liddell.
After the shots were fired, Zimmerman retrieved and secured Liddell's firearm. Zimmerman first placed it on the running board of the pickup and later, Chris Yount, came and secured both Liddell's and Zimmerman's firearms near the main camp. Roberta Zimmerman (Registered Nurse) and Jennifer Green (a former paramedic) came and checked on Liddell. Neither were able to1 find a pulse.
After the shooting, Tim Green drove a UTV to Diamond D Ranch. Tim used their phone to contact Dispatch and informed them of the incident and location. Custer County Deputy Pumphrey and ISP Trooper Demcak arrived at the campground at approximately 0144 hrs.