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Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer under fire for controversial 911 dispatch call

Activists have condemned Troyer for telling a 911 dispatcher a Black newspaper carrier threatened to kill him.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer is under fire for a 911 dispatch call made in late January where he accused a Black newspaper carrier of trying to kill him.

According to The Seattle Times, Troyer called a 911 dispatcher on Jan. 27 and told the dispatcher a man parked in front of his house “threatened to kill him,” a statement he later retracted when speaking with the Tacoma Police Department. 

The 911 dispatch call led to over 40 officers from multiple agencies rushing toward the scene.

The man Troyer called about is Sedrick Altheimer, a Black newspaper carrier on his morning route. 

Some Tacoma residents said this is another part of a continuing trend.

“People are feeling scared that this happened months ago and we’re just now hearing about it, very similar to what happened to Mannie Ellis, it took months for that to come out as well,” said Jamika Scott, a community organizer for the Tacoma Action Collective. “It does not make this community feel safe, it does not make this community feel willing to trust law enforcement when we can’t even trust them to be transparent about bad behavior from people within their own ranks.”

KING 5 tried reaching out to Altheimer and Troyer to get their views on the incident, but were unsuccessful. However, Troyer did speak out Friday in a radio interview, where he accused The Seattle Times of pushing an agenda against him.

“They didn’t let me respond to some of their accusations, they clearly guided it in one direction,” Troyer told KIRO Radio. “I believe that can possibly be attributed to, and I believe it’s been made very clear on this show and other shows and throughout my election that I said I will not let Pierce County become King County, and I hope our area doesn’t become like Seattle.”

He continued, “I don’t think they like me to begin with, because it seems like every time I have a conversation with The Seattle Times, it’s adversarial.”

Troyer also stated in the interview that he already put the incident behind him.

But activists say that’s not good enough, and are now demanding his removal, saying he can’t be trusted with the power he holds.

“Whether or not he has repaired one-on-one individual harm, this is about public safety,” said Sakara Remmu, lead strategist for the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance. “He leads the sheriff’s department. The sheriff’s department is often relied upon by other law enforcement agencies, within and outside its jurisdiction, and his judgment is impaired by explicit racial bias.”

Troyer released the following statement Friday through the Pierce County Sheriff's Department: 

“As the elected Sheriff, I am committed to policing that is transparent, accountable to its citizens, and administered free of racial bias.  These are the standards I hold myself and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to.  My actions were consistent with these standards.  I stand by my original recorded statement to dispatch, where I reported that there were verbal threats made.  Due to the nature of the call, the Tacoma Police Department investigated the matter and concluded the inquiry without incident and I invite further inquiry into the matter.   I am saddened to learn that Mr. Altheimer felt he was treated in an unfair manner.  I am committed to continuing the ongoing dialogue with our community to ensure that policing in Pierce County is free of racial bias and performed in a manner that upholds the public trust.”  

Meanwhile, activists are looking for what can be done to remove Troyer as the Pierce County Sheriff.