Pierce County Council asks for investigation after sheriff called police on Black delivery driver

TACOMA — The Pierce County Council is asking for an independent investigation after Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer called the police on a Black newspaper delivery driver.

Chairman Derek Young announced in a Tuesday study session that the decision was made following an executive session with a Pierce County prosecutor that advises the council on legal matters.

An exact timeline and scope for the investigation into the January incident hasn’t been determined.

Troyer described the incident in a statement to KIRO Radio, noting that it was around 2 a.m. on the night in question when he saw a car going in and out of a neighbor’s driveway with its headlights off.

“So I put my clothes on, went out in my own car, and went out to go see if I could find the car and get a license plate and see what was going on, because it was very suspicious,” he described, noting that he initially did not know the driver was Black. “I got up a couple streets above me, a car blocked me in, a male jumped out. The male was very angry and mad and didn’t tell me he was a newspaper driver — he was just mad.”

Troyer’s call to dispatch went out to all South Sound law enforcement agencies “at the highest priority,” with 42 units across multiple agencies responding. The man — identified as 24-year-old Sedrick Altheimer — described to the Seattle Times that he felt he was being targeted as “a Black man in a white neighborhood” when police arrived on the scene.

“I’m yelling ‘what are you guys here for? What am I doing wrong? You guys are trying to arrest a paper carrier!’” he described. “These police officers just wasted a gallon of gas speeding over here, for what? I’m giving the people the news and I’m going home. I’ve got five kids.”

In 911 audio first acquired by the Times, Troyer can be heard telling the dispatcher on three separate occasions that Altheimer had “threatened to kill” him. Altheimer, though, denies that.

An incident report filed by a Tacoma officer also appeared to contradict claims made in Troyer’s call to dispatch, with the officer on the scene saying Troyer had amended his story to say that “[Altheimer] never threatened him.”

Troyer questioned that narrative in a written statement to KIRO Radio, saying that he “didn’t not recant,” and claiming that the Times’ story on the incident was “by far the most one sided inaccurate story I have ever seen.”

“What I told officers at the scene including my own was ‘no I don’t want to pursue a threats report,’” he said. “I think it was perceived as ‘no threats.’ It wasn’t an issue for me. I was fine letting it go.”

It’s unclear at this time whether Troyer stands by the claim made in the recorded call to dispatch that Altheimer directly threatened his life, although KIRO Radio has reached out for clarification.

Troyer later released this statement in a tweet:

This story was originally published on MyNorthwest.