By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone
Pierce County, WA – Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer was found not guilty Wednesday on a false reporting charge associated with a confrontation he got into with a newspaper deliveryman last year.
Sheriff Troyer was facing charges of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant and false reporting in connection with the Jan. 27, 2021 incident, CNN reported.
According to charging documents, Sheriff Troyer called the emergency “officer line” at the 911 center at approximately 2 a.m. that morning and reported that a man was going from driveway to driveway on his street and appeared to be prowling, KCPQ reported.
Audio recordings of the sheriff’s calls to dispatch showed he told the dispatcher that the “suspect” appeared homeless and was driving a beat-up vehicle.
He told the dispatcher that he thought the suspect had a garage remote he was trying to use to access homes on his street, KCPQ reported.
“I was home and I saw the lights coming in on the house and everything and I looked and he was like pulling in all the driveways,” Sheriff Troyer explained.
“So, I went out to follow him, and he blocked me off and accosted me and said ‘you’re a cop” and started threatening me,” he told dispatch.
The suspect Sheriff Troyer referred to was 24-year-old Sedrick Altheimer, who was delivering newspapers in the sheriff’s neighborhood, KCPQ reported.
The sheriff told the dispatcher that Altheimer had tried to get into his garage and that the man had blocked him in the driveway and wouldn’t let him leave.
He also told the dispatcher that the suspect had threatened to kill him – a claim Tacoma police said he later walked back when speaking with a responding officer, KOMO reported.
“Troyer’s call lasted just under five minutes, during which Troyer stated four times that someone had threatened to kill him,” investigative documents alleged, according to KCPQ.
Because the call came from Sheriff Troyer, there was a massive response to his call for help, KCPQ reported.
The dispatcher alerted 19 law enforcement agencies in the South Sound that an officer needed assistance, and 42 units responded to the scene.
Prosecutors said Altheimer confronted Sheriff Troyer that morning after the sheriff followed him while he was making deliveries along his newspaper route, CNN reported.
They said Altheimer asked him if he was a police officer and if he was following him “because I’m black.”
Prosecutors said Sheriff Troyer did not identify himself as law enforcement at that point, but that he continued to follow Altheimer after the confrontation, CNN reported.
Altheimer was detained at the scene but ultimately released, KCPQ reported.
The Pierce County Council began investigating the incident but paused their probe when the attorney general got involved, KNKX reported.
The attorney general began investigating in April of 2021 at the request of Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed charges against Sheriff Troyer on Oct. 19, 2021, KNKX reported.
“According to charging documents, despite his statement to dispatchers, officers on scene reported that Troyer later told them the carrier did not threaten him,” the attorney general’s office said, according to CNN.
The sheriff said at the time that the charges were a “blatant and politically motivated anti-cop hit job,” KNKX reported.
“The night of the incident I was doing what I have done for decades — investigate the possibility of criminal activity after neighbors and I had repeatedly become victims of property crime,” he said in his statement at the time.
The jury found Sheriff Troyer not guilty on Wednesday after seven hours of deliberation, KIRO reported.
Ferguson said that respecting the jury’s decision is “part of upholding the rule of law,” according to CNN.
“I appreciate the jury’s service and thank my team for their hard work,” he said.
Anne Bremner, the attorney representing Sheriff Troyer, said her client is “grateful” for the jury’s decision and described the outcome as a “just verdict,” CNN reported.
“If the AG had made Sheriff Troyer part of the investigation instead of the target, we wouldn’t be here,” Bremner noted. “Sheriff Troyer is very grateful to the jury for their hard work and for their just verdict.”
A civil trial against Sheriff Troyer is still pending in connection with the incident, KIRO reported.