TACOMA — Opening statements in the trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer are expected this week, nearly two years after he called a law enforcement-only line to report a Black motorist driving in his Tacoma neighborhood threatened his life.
Troyer’s distress call in late January 2021 initially dispatched 42 officers to the scene, but most were called off when Tacoma police arrived. Fourteen officers and deputies, including three sergeants and a lieutenant, responded.
The motorist turned out to be a newspaper carrier named Sedrick Altheimer, a then-24-year-old Black man, who has alleged he was subjected to “racial profiling, false arrest and unnecessary use of excessive force” in a $5 million tort claim against Pierce County.
The state Attorney General’s office later investigated Troyer and charged him with misdemeanors related to false reporting after Altheimer said he did not threaten Troyer and the sheriff, according to police reports, said no threats were made.
Troyer, who was three weeks into his job as the county’s elected sheriff at the time of the incident, has resisted calls to resign and said inquiries into his actions are politically motivated and anti-police. He has denied wrongdoing and racial bias.
- Jan. 27, 2021: Troyer phoned a law enforcement-only line shortly after 2 a.m. and said four times in the nearly five-minute call that a suspicious driver he confronted had threatened his life. Troyer said he followed the car after seeing it go into multiple driveways. Altheimer, the newspaper carrier, told responding officers that he didn’t threaten Troyer. Troyer also told police Altheimer never threatened him, according to police reports. No one was arrested or cited.
- March 18: The Seattle Times broke the news on the confrontation between Troyer and Altheimer. The News Tribune confirmed the story the following day, and the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance called on the county to investigate Troyer.
- March 23: The Pierce County Council announced a search for an independent investigator to examine the confrontation between Troyer and Altheimer.
- April 20: Pierce County hired Former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Brian Moran to investigate and determine whether Troyer violated the law or department policies.
- April 23: The Attorney General’s Office launched a criminal investigation at the request of Gov. Jay Inslee. Inslee said the state stepped in because no local criminal investigation occurred.
- April 28: Pierce County paused its probe amid the Attorney General’s Office investigation.
- June 16: Altheimer filed a $5 million tort claim against Pierce County, alleging Troyer violated his constitutional rights and that he suffered emotional distress.
- Oct. 19: The Attorney General’s Office charged Troyer in Pierce County District Court with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false or misleading statement. Convictions carry penalties of up to a year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. The Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance called for Troyer’s resignation.
- October 25: Altheimer filed a federal lawsuit against Pierce County and Troyer, alleging the sheriff used “racial animus” and “reckless disregard” for his civil rights when Troyer told dispatchers that Altheimer threatened to kill him, bringing dozens of police to the scene. The complaint was initially filed in King County Superior Court.
- Oct. 26: The Pierce County probe by Moran found Troyer violated four department policies on conduct, community engagement, bias and off-duty intervention
- Oct. 29: Troyer pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges. Pierce County prosecutors added Troyer to a list of law enforcement witnesses with credibility issues, known informally as the Brady list, in reference to a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
- June 6, 2022: A Pierce County District Court judge orders Troyer to stay 1,000 feet away from Altheimer for one year after he filed for an anti-harassment order against the sheriff alleging he continued to surveil him on his paper route. Altheimer said he feared for his safety and quit his job.
- July 1: The district court judge overseeing Troyer’s criminal case, a visiting judge from Kitsap County, orders Troyer to post $100,000 bail, finding the sheriff violated the terms of his release conditions by continuing to contact Altheimer. The Attorney General’s Office had asked for $10,000 bail after the anti-harassment order ruling.
- Nov. 29: Opening arguments in Troyer’s trial are scheduled to begin. Pierce County created a website with information about the case.