Sheriff Ed Troyer's character comes into question during criminal trial against him

A verdict is near in the criminal trial against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.

The defense rested its case Monday after a very late start to Troyer’s continued testimony. The sheriff is charged with two misdemeanor counts including false reporting for an incident in Jan. 2021.

It wasn’t until after 2 p.m. when the jury was brought into the courtroom to hear Troyer’s testimony. For the majority of the day, both sides of the court argued about the sheriff’s character. State prosecutors questioned if his testimony from Dec. 8 was truthful.

In part of his testimony that day, Troyer told the defense he did not have complaints against him throughout his career in law enforcement.

"38 years—never had a single complaint of lying, racism, assault, use of force, sexual discrimination or otherwise," Troyer testified Dec. 8. "Not even a report filed, let alone no confirmed report or investigated. Never even had one filed."

After his testimony on Dec. 8, state prosecutors said they received an email that night claiming Troyer had 10 complaints against him by the year 2015. One of the alleged claims was for harassment, with Troyer accused of threatening to call someone’s employer and potentially lose their job.

Monday, without the jury present, prosecutors questioned the sheriff’s character.

"It’s just allowing the state to rebut the evidence, the sweeping claims of his good character," said Melanie Tratnik, assistant prosecuting attorney with the Attorney General’s Office.

The defense argued the complaints listed in the email were not relevant to the trial, further stating there was no evidence to support the emails and none of it was authenticated.

"I also ask one more time that we be allowed to know who sent this to the prosecutor’s office, because we need to be able to authenticate it," said Anne Bremner, Troyer’s defense attorney. "I think the other problem we have with this is it is hearsay upon hearsay."

Presiding Judge Jeffrey Jahns of Kitsap County granted part of the state’s request to question Troyer about his character during cross-examination in front of the jury. However, Jahns said prosecutors could not ask about the emails specifically.

During cross-examination, prosecutors asked Troyer about the alleged harassment incident in 2015. Troyer said he did not threaten that individual, but said he did tell the person he was going to notify their boss about the encounter.

Troyer’s attorneys also made motions to dismiss charges, which were denied. The defense rested its case late Monday afternoon. Court will reconvene Tuesday.

Sedrick Altheimer, a Black newspaper carrier, said Troyer was following him while he was making deliveries in Tacoma Vista View neighborhood on Jan. 27, 2021. Troyer said he saw a car suspiciously going in and out of driveways at an odd time of night and felt the need to assess. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer testifies in criminal trial against him

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Altheimer testified he approached Troyer first asking why he was being followed. Troyer said Altheimer "looked like he was ready to fight." He also said Altheimer never told him he was delivering newspapers in the area. The sheriff called South Sound 911 on a law enforcement-only line, claiming Altheimer was threatening to kill him.

More than 40 officers were initially dispatched, and about 10 arrived on the scene. After further assessment, Officer Chad Lawless, who was primary officer on the scene, made the decision to downgrade the call and requested not to send additional officers.

Washington State Attorney General’s Office charged Troyer with misdemeanor counts of false reporting and making a false or misleading statement to a public servant. Troyer has pleaded not guilty.