TACOMA — An investigation headed by a former U.S. attorney has found a sheriff in Washington state violated policies against bias-free policing and other standards during a controversial January encounter with a Black newspaper carrier.
The 48-page report by Brian Moran, released Tuesday, faulted Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer’s late-night decision to follow a car driven by then-24-year old Sedrick Altheimer, and subsequently call in a large emergency response with claims that Altheimer threatened to kill him.
“We are unable to substantiate Sheriff Troyer’s claim that Mr. Altheimer threatened to kill or harm him during that incident,” a summary of Moran’s report said. “We also find that a reasonable person could conclude that Sheriff Troyer exhibited an improper bias in his confrontation with Mr. Altheimer.”
The Seattle Times reports the findings, commissioned by the Pierce County Council, found Troyer, who is white, violated professional conduct policies against bias-free policing and engaging in law-enforcement activities while off duty, among others.
It concluded Troyer may not have known Altheimer’s race when he first began following him in the early morning hours of Jan. 27, but that he did know when he called a 911 emergency dispatcher.
Moran’s investigation is a civil inquiry separate from a criminal probe conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, which last week charged Troyer with two misdemeanor counts for false reporting.
John Sheeran, an attorney for Troyer, said in a statement that he did not lie and acted appropriately.
“Sheriff Troyer did exactly what the people of Pierce County would want law enforcement officers to do: He observed a suspicious vehicle at 2 a.m. and he called the police,” Sheeran said. “We look forward to a jury trial where the people of Pierce County will judge him after hearing the witnesses.”
Altheimer has filed a federal lawsuit against Pierce County seeking at least $5 million.