Ed Troyer found not guilty in criminal trial against him

A jury has reached a verdict in the trial against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer, determining he is not guilty on two charges stemming from an encounter with a Black newspaper carrier in 2021.

He was charged with two misdemeanors stemming from his off-duty encounter with Sedrick Altheimer in 2021.

Troyer, who has worked for the sheriff’s office for decades in Washington’s second-most populous county, pleaded not guilty to false reporting and making a false or misleading statement to a civil servant for claiming to an emergency dispatcher that the newspaper carrier was threatening to kill him.

"If the AG had made me part of the investigation instead of the target, we wouldn’t be here. As Sheriff, I’m very grateful to the jury for their hard work and for their just verdict. The media made me out to be a racist and the AG’s office made me out to be a liar. Neither are true," Troyer said in a statement to FOX 13. 

State prosecutors attempted to prove that Troyer committed crimes when he contacted 911 dispatchers and reported the death threat.

An audio recording of the call captured Troyer saying he was threatened, but records show he walked that back when questioned by Tacoma police.

Troyer’s attorney Anne Bremner disputed those facts, and said the evidence would tell a different story. Troyer also took the stand in his own defense.

Police witnesses and a 911 dispatcher also testified. The officers arrived to find Troyer and Altheimer sitting in their vehicles facing one another after their 2 a.m. standoff in a Tacoma neighborhood near Troyer’s house.

Altheimer, then 24, was driving his regular delivery route Jan. 27 when Troyer started following him in his personal SUV. The two wound up in the confrontation after Altheimer said he demanded to know if Troyer, who didn’t identify himself, was a police officer and whether he was being followed because he was Black.

Altheimer wasn’t arrested, but was detained by officers and frisked. Body camera footage showed Altheimer frustrated by the large law enforcement response, telling police he had made no threats.

Altheimer also testified. Within minutes of taking the witness stand, Altheimer told the court he was nervous and began crying.

He became emotional when explaining to state prosecutors he had previously dealt with residents and police stopping and questioning him while delivering newspapers.

"He just talked down to me, like I was just lost. Like I didn’t know where I belonged. He accused me of being a porch pirate," said Altheimer.

Altheimer told the court he believed the day in question was a case of racial profiling, further stating he was frustrated and afraid while at the scene.

"When you are sitting in a vehicle and you're Black and cops surround you, guns are drawn. They don't know what my threat level is, they don't know who I was. And they came to that scene because somebody has lied to them," said Altheimer.

The defense argued Altheimer never told Troyer that he was a newspaper carrier.

Gov. Jay Inslee directed Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office in April 2021 to investigate. Troyer was charged by the Attorney General’s Office in October 2021.

A jury of six plus four alternates was selected for the case. All but two are white, with a Native American man and a Black man.

Since the incident, Troyer has been placed on a prosecutor’s list of officers with credibility issues and a former U.S. attorney’s investigation found his conduct violated bias-free policing and professional standards.

A conviction in the case could be legal grounds for voters to launch a recall against Troyer to remove him from office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.