More trouble for Troyer: Activists file federal complaint against Pierce County sheriff

The Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance announced its filing of a federal civil rights complaint on Friday against the Pierce County sheriff for his encounter with a Black man delivering newspapers.

On Jan. 27, Sheriff Ed Troyer called 911 saying a Black man delivering newspapers threatened to kill him. In the nearly five-minute emergency call, Troyer said the newspaper carrier threatened him at least three times.

Newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer, 24, denied making threats, according to a police report obtained by The News Tribune. Troyer said in his interview with police that Altheimer did not threaten him, contradicting statements in the 911 call, according to a police report.

Troyer told The News Tribune on Friday he never recanted that Altheimer threatened him.

“He did threaten me,” Troyer said. “Once I found out he was a paper boy, I didn’t want to open an investigation. I didn’t want to jam him up. I wanted to let him go.”

The coalition’s complaint filed with the Department of Justice claims the interaction resulted in violations of civil and human rights.

“That complaint says Sheriff Troyer violated Mr. Altheimer’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure,” the coalition’s press release said.

“I never even was within ten yards of the guy,” Troyer said in response to the coalition’s accusation.

The new complaint is the second filed by the Alliance regarding the incident involving Troyer. The first was filed with the FBI last month. The Alliance said its leaders met with representatives from the FBI’s Seattle field office this week to discuss the April complaint, and Troyer told The News Tribune he received a call from the FBI office, confirming the meeting.

The FBI responded to The News Tribune’s request on whether an investigation was opened:

“Yes, our office met with the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance, as we have with many community groups. The FBI does not disclose topics discussed at this sort of meeting, and it is up to the participant to decide if they would like to share.”

The Department of Justice has not immediately responded for comment.

Troyer said he wants to comply with the ongoing investigations.

“Not one person has reached out to me. No one has talked to me. I want to work with them. I wanted the investigation to be extended,” he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Pierce County Council have directed separate investigations into the interaction.

The state’s investigation will focus on potential criminal violations, the Attorney General’s Office previously told The News Tribune. The county’s fact-finding investigation has been put on pause until the Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office concludes its work.

Voters elect the top official at the sheriff’s department, and the council has no supervisory authority over the position. Troyer was elected in November and sworn in following certified results. Previously, he was the public information officer for the department for 19 years.

The complaint from the Alliance also alleges Troyer used excessive force, made a false 911 call, fabricated evidence, and jeopardized the safety and health of Altheimer.

Troyer said none of the claims are true.

“The group has no evidence, none of that is true,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the investigation. I am asking for the investigation to include continual false claims by BLM.”

After The Seattle Times story on the encounter, the Alliance demanded the immediate suspension of Troyer and an independent investigation.

“Based on media reports and other information, the alliance believes the incident with Mr. Altheimer was not an isolated transgression by Sheriff Troyer,” the press release said.

This story was originally published by The News Tribune.