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Aug. 4, 2021

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YouTube legal analysis gives Sheriff Troyer low marks for run-in with newspaper carrier

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A YouTube video analyzing the legal case against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer for a run-in with a newspaper carrier graded him an “F” for allegedly lying about being threatened and assuming the carrier was committing a crime.

The 16-minute video was made by Audit the Audit, which has more than 1 million subscribers and delves into cases to “sort out the who and what and the right and wrong of police interactions.” The Troyer video had wracked up more than 424,910 views as of Wednesday.

“As of now, nobody has asked me what happened that night,” Troyer told The News Tribune Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to the investigations so all the facts are out there.”

In this case, the YouTube channel looked at the Jan. 27 confrontation between Troyer and Sedrick Altheimer, who has since filed a $5 million claim against Pierce County.

Troyer says he spotted a car going in and out of neighboring driveways, which he found suspicious, so he drove to the street in his personal SUV to write down the license plate number. Altheimer said he stopped to ask Troyer why he was following him.

The encounter prompted Troyer to call an emergency line for officers and request one or two patrol cars to the scene near his Tacoma home. While speaking with dispatchers, Troyer said at least three times that Altheimer threatened him.

In a police report, the Tacoma officer who spoke with Troyer wrote that the sheriff was never threatened and never saw Altheimer with a weapon.

The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating to see whether any crimes were committed, including false reporting by Troyer.

“Given the available facts, there is a strong argument that Sheriff Troyer violated the false reporting statute by claiming that Mr. Altheimer threatened to kill him when he actually did not,” according to the YouTube video.

The video argues that Troyer knew his call about the threat would draw an emergency response, which it did. More than 40 law enforcement officers started to respond, but were quickly called off once the first officers arrived and found no danger.

Audit the Audit also explained Altheimer likely had implied consent to enter the driveways of newspaper subscribers, and it went over legal statutes for stalking and assault to see whether Troyer could have violated those laws.

In the end, the video finds Troyer at fault for allegedly lying to the dispatcher:

“Overall, Sheriff Troyer gets an ‘F’ for purposefully misrepresenting the facts of his encounter with Mr. Altheimer to the other officers, baselessly assuming that Mr. Altheimer was committing a criminal act and for wasting the valuable time and resources of multiple agencies with his false allegations.”

The analysis gave Altheimer an “A-” for complying with police commands, keeping his composure despite his “heated and challenging demeanor” and passionately arguing his case. The video’s narrator said Altheimer shouldn’t have made so many statements to officers but noted they could have helped police believe him because they were said with so much conviction.

Also rated highly were Tacoma police officers for being patient and professional, listening to Altheimer’s side of the encounter and calming him down.

“This interaction is a prime example of the tangible differences officer professionally can make in peacefully resolving civil or criminal disputes,” the YouTube video said.

There is no timeline for when the AG’s investigation into Troyer will wrap up. The sheriff said Wednesday investigators have not reached out to him yet.

An independent investigator, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Brian Moran, was also hired in April by the Pierce County Council to gather facts.

“Whether the sheriff’s conclusion was an honest mistake, or due to implicit bias or blatant racism is for you to decide,” according to the YouTube video.

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