Sheriff Faces Charges Stemming from Confrontation With Black Newspaper Carrier

A long-time sheriff in Washington state has never had a racial bias complaint against him - until two misdemeanor charges were filed Tuesday because of a confrontation between him and a Black newspaper carrier.

"I have never had a sustained or founded complaint in 37 years," Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer told The Seattle Times. "I have never had a complaint of racial bias, use of force or sexual discrimination even filed."

The carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, was driving on a regular delivery route Jan. 27 when Troyer began following him in an unmarked personal SUV believing that Altheimer might have been stealing packages off people's porches.

Around 2 a.m., Troyer called a dispatcher on a non-emergency officer line, saying Altheimer had threatened to kill him. More than 40 units rushed to the scene.

In a statement to a responding officer, Troyer acknowledged that Altheimer, 24, did not threaten him, the Attorney General's Office wrote in a probable cause statement. Altheimer denied making any threats and said Troyer did not identify himself as a sheriff or law enforcement officer.

The attorney general said Troyer must face two charges: one count of false reporting and one count of making a false statement to a civil servant.

In his written court statement, Troyer stated he will fight the charges against him because he believed that Attorney General Bob Ferguson was targeting him.

Ferguson's investigation is "a blatant and politically motivated anti-cop hit job," Troyer wrote.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ed Troyer
FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, then-Pierce County Sheriff's Dept. spokesman Det. Ed Troyer answers questions during a news conference in Tacoma, Wash. The Washington state attorney general on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, filed two misdemeanor criminal charges against Troyer, now the Pierce County sheriff, stemming from his confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier in January. Troyer has denied wrongdoing. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

Attorneys representing Altheimer filed a tort claim against Pierce County in June, alleging that Troyer's actions amounted to "racial profiling, false arrest and unnecessary use of force." The claim, a precursor to a possible lawsuit, seeks millions of dollars in damages.

Troyer is a 35-year veteran of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, and served for years as the agency's public face and media spokesperson before being elected sheriff in November 2020. Pierce County has more than 900,000 residents and is Washington's second-most populous county.

If Troyer is convicted, the standard sentencing range for the misdemeanor sentences is up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.