Tacoma, WA – The Washington Office of the Attorney General announced it was filing charges against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer for an incident that occurred with a black newspaper delivery driver in his neighborhood.
The incident occurred on Jan. 27 when Sheriff Troyer called 911 and told the dispatcher 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, KNKX reported.
“Troyer’s call lasted just under five minutes, during which Troyer stated four times that someone had threatened to kill him,” according to investigative documents.
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.
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 at the request of Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a complaint on Oct. 19 charging Sheriff Troyer with one count of false reporting and another count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, KNKX reported.
If convicted, the county’s top law enforcement official could face up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
The sheriff called the charges a “blatant and politically motivated anti-cop hit job,” KNKX reported.
“I’m a Pierce County cop with a belief in Pierce County juries,” Sheriff Troyer said in a lengthy statement. “I’m confident a Pierce County jury will not allow Bob Ferguson to de-elect the sheriff the voters elected.”
“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 all times, I sought to de-escalate the incident by asking for one or two units to help.”
The sheriff was the public information officer for the department before he was elected to office in 2020 with 64 percent of the vote after the county’s longest-serving sheriff retired, KNKX reported.
The probable cause statement from the attorney general for the charges against Sheriff Troyer cited the sheriff’s insistence on the 911 call that he had been threatened by Altheimer multiple times.
A Tacoma police report showed the sheriff walked back that the claim about the death threat late the same night, KNKX reported.
Activists have filed two federal civil rights complaints against Sheriff Troyer in connection with the incident and asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to look into the matter.