Prosecutors Blackball ‘Biased’ Sheriff Who Tailed Delivery Guy. He Still Refuses to Go.

Prosecutors Blackball ‘Biased’ Sheriff Who Tailed Delivery Guy. He Still Refuses to Go. 1

A Washington State sheriff, who is facing criminal charges for lying about a confrontation he had with a Black newspaper carrier, has now been blackballed by local prosecutors.

But Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer is still, unbelievably, refusing to go.

On Friday evening, the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office determined Troyer should be added to a list of witnesses with credibility problems. The decision was made by a 10-person committee that routinely reviews officer honesty affairs—and means that Troyer is officially on the “Brady List” that is often used to identify officers with problematic behavior that would compromise their ability to testify in court.

It comes just days after the Washington State Attorney General’s Office charged the Troyer with misdemeanor counts of false reporting and making a false statement to a civil servant after he tailed the newspaper carrier on Jan. 27, then called emergency dispatchers and claimed the carrier had threatened to kill him. But later, when questioned, Troy admitted there had been no threat—before flip-flopping again.

The bizarre incident prompted a response by multiple agencies. A probe by the former attorney general, done at Gov. Jay Inslee’s request, found this week that Troyer showed an “improper bias,” and violated departmental policies on conduct, community engagement, bias, and off-duty intervention. He has pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.

Now, a committee has determined that Troyer “will be added to the list of recurring witnesses with potential impeachment information,” a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said.

Being “Brady listed” is often viewed as a scarlet letter in law enforcement circles. It stems from a landmark 1963 Supreme Court ruling that ruled prosecutors must disclose exculpatory information to defendants about officers.

Simply put, it means that if the Troyer was called as a witness in any criminal trial, prosecutors would be forced to share his credibility issues with defense lawyers—who in turn could use that information to question the validity of his testimony in court.

It’s just the latest blow in an episode that has left residents wondering why he’s still in the job at all.

“Sheriff Troyer definitely should resign after the charges,” Taylor Dickey, a Tacoma resident, told The Daily Beast. “I’m not sure how Pierce County residents can fully trust their Sheriff’s Department if the Sheriff is a liar. I’m sure he will eventually be found guilty. Eventually. That’s one of the downsides of the courts—justice, if served at all, is served cold. The justice system moves so slowly.”

The Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance, who had petitioned for Troyer to be added to the Brady List, said his “integrity as a law enforcement agent should not be trusted.”

“Sheriff Troyer should be added to the county’s Brady List not just for the actions he took during the January incident and after, but for his intentionally misleading public statements about the incident of focus, and his promises to support and participate in the investigation.”

Troyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday but his lawyer told the NewsTribune that the prosecutor’s office was simply following stand procedure.

“We’re disappointed that they reached this conclusion, but we’re confident that when all of the facts come to light, that decision will be reversed,” John Sheeran said.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the saga began in the early hours of Jan. 27, when 24-year-old Sedrick Altheimer was in the middle of his newspaper route. He noticed a white SUV was following him but tried to continue his shift. Eventually, he approached the SUV, where Troyer was sitting in the driver’s seat.

“Altheimer, who is Black, asked Troyer why he was following him, and ‘Is it because I’m Black?’” the affidavit states. “Troyer told him, ‘My wife is Black.’ Altheimer responded, ‘Congratulations.’”

The affidavit states that Altheimer then asked Troyer if he was a cop. Troyer didn’t answer, instead asking Altheimer questions and eventually accusing him of “being a thief,” the affidavit says.

Altheimer said he then got back into his car and drove off but Troyer was “being aggressive” and kept following him. Unbeknownst to Altheimer, Troyer called 911 to report that the carrier had threatened to kill him.

“Troyer’s call lasted just under five minutes, during which Troyer stated four times that someone had threatened to kill him,” the affidavit states. “Troyer also stated during the call that the person ‘blocked me in’ with his vehicle.”

Over 40 officers from multiple agencies responded after the dispatcher believed the sheriff was “going through an active confrontation with someone trying to kill him” and needed immediate assistance, the affidavit says.

When the officers arrived, however, they found no emergency and Troyer allegedly admitted that he had never been threatened. Altheimer, meanwhile, was frisked and questioned by police.

The affidavit states that the attorney general’s office made repeated requests for an interview with Troyer about his conflicting statements, but the sheriff declined.

In a long-winded statement to The Daily Beast last week, Troyer called the charges against him an “ambush [that] confirms that this is an independent and fair investigation.”

“The charge is a blatant and politically motivated anti-cop hit job,” Troyer said. “The night of the incident I was doing what I have done for decades—investigate the possibility of criminal activity after neighbors and I had repeatedly become victims of property crime.”

The sheriff added that he had no intentions to resign—and that “very few” people were calling for it.

“My job is to protect the citizens of Pierce county and that is what I have done for 37 years and that is what I will continue to do,” he said. “I have had my windows broken out in my office, car broken into, death threats, and more.”

Altheimer has since filed a lawsuit against Troyer and Pierce County that demands damages for emotional distress and humiliation. Vonda Sargent, one of Altheimer’s attorneys, said it’s pretty clear Troyer “should resign immediately.”

“I think it’s a miracle that our client made it out alive. And I think it’s pretty clear that Troyer was contradicting himself so many times,” Sargent told The Daily Beast last week.

“He’s trying to politicize the issue, make it seem like it is good guys versus bad. Well, you can’t be both Troyer,” she added, noting that the sheriff’s refusal to go despite residents’ demands “gives me second-hand embarrassment.”

“Have some grace,” she said.