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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Pierce County settles public-records lawsuit for $250K

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TACOMA — A woman who sought records regarding the whereabouts of two of Pierce County’s top law enforcement officers will receive $250,000 to settle a public-records lawsuit.

Easton resident Lynn Brewer filed suit in Thurston County Superior Court in October 2022, contending that her request for GPS data from the cellphones of Sheriff Ed Troyer and chief of investigations Kevin Roberts was delayed for months without an authorized reason. Brewer was born and raised in Lakewood and lived there for several decades.

The settlement was approved during the Pierce County Council meeting Nov. 14. Both parties agreed to dismiss the case, according to the settlement and mutual-release agreement sent to The News Tribune on Monday.

Adam Faber, a spokesperson for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, said Monday the county had no comment on the settlement. County prosecutors routinely defend the county in lawsuits.

According to a complaint filed on July 21, 2023, Brewer alleged her Oct. 13, 2022, public records request for the GPS data of Troyer and Roberts’ work cellphones “from Feb. 22, 2022 to current” was delayed for 295 days.

Brewer said she made the request as a concerned citizen because she didn’t believe Troyer and Roberts were where they said they were while on the clock. In an interview with The News Tribune on Wednesday, Brewer said after pressing the county and suing, she did not receive all the data she requested. The records she did receive didn’t confirm her suspicions, Brewer said.

“There was more to the story,” she said. “It’s a frustrating situation when you believe that you have good information that there’s continued corruption going on in that agency.”

The complaint said there were numerous delays in producing the records from October 2022 through August 2023 even though the county had no legal reason to extend the deadline, did not need to clarify the intent of the request and had sufficient time to locate and assemble the requested information.

The county allegedly had the records available for production since November 2022 but refused to make them public, thus violating the state Public Records Act, according to the complaint.

Brewer “requested the records for purposes of holding the County and its public officials accountable to the public. Time was of the essence in obtaining the requested information,” according to the complaint.

On the same day the Pierce County Council approved her $250,000 settlement, the council also approved a $800,015 settlement to Sedric Altheimer, a Black newspaper carrier who sued Pierce County and Troyer after the sheriff called the police on him while he was delivering papers in 2021.

“Just between the two of us, it’s a million dollars,” Brewer said. “Ultimately it’s the taxpayers who end up paying for this stuff. Should I continue to fight to get the records and penalize the taxpayer? Or just take the money, and say thank you and be done with it?”

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Darren Moss told the News Tribune on Wednesday he could not make a statement on the settlement but said there is no requirement for GPS tracking on county phones although there is GPS tracking on county computers.

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