42 Police Units Responded, Now Reports Show Sheriff's Claims That A Black Man Threatened Him Are False
The sheriff came out of his house and hopped in his car to follow the driver, who was simply delivering newspapers in the neighborhood.
March 20, 2021 at 3:40 pm
Ed Troyer, a white sheriff who was facing backlash for instigating a confrontation with a Black newspaper delivery driver earlier this year, is now facing more scrutiny for the discrepancies in his account of the incident.
According to 911 audio, obtained by The Seattle Times, the sheriff claimed that he was being threatened by 24-year-old driver Sedrick Altheimer during the January incident in Pierce County, Washington. But, according to the police report, the deputy said Altheimer never threatened him.
Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer triggered a massive police response in late January after confronting a Black man near the sheriff’s home. The man was delivering newspapers on his route. @Jim_Brunner & @lewiskamb: https://t.co/BXRCcegaAN
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) March 19, 2021
The incident happened around 2 a.m. on Jan. 27. That's when Troyer came out of his house and hopped in his car to follow the driver, who was delivering newspapers in the neighborhood.
“So I put my clothes on, went out in my own car, and went out to go see if I could find the car and get a license plate and see what was going on because it was very suspicious,” the deputy said, according to KIRO Radio. “I got up a couple streets above me, a car blocked me in, a male jumped out. The male was very angry and mad and didn’t tell me he was a newspaper driver — he was just mad.”
Altheimer said the sheriff was following him in an unmarked, personal SUV and didn’t identify himself as law enforcement.
“I’m throwing papers out the window, left and right, both windows are down … and I see this SUV hit the block,” the young man said, adding that he didn’t know it was the county sheriff driving the unmarked Chevy Tahoe.
The paper carrier, who works six nights a week, said the SUV continued to track him as he stopped at houses.
“I continue what I’m doing, because, you know, I’m working. I’m not doing any harm to the neighborhood. I work here every night,” Altheimer said.
After placing a newspaper in a plastic cylinder at a home, the 24-year-old walked over to the SUV.
“So I asked him, ‘Who are you?’” Altheimer said.
Troyer didn’t identify himself, according to the driver, but responded with questions instead, asking him what he was doing in the neighborhood. As the confrontation continued, Altheimer said the deputy called him "all types of names” and accused him of being “a porch pirate,” someone who steals packages from porches.
The paper deliverer then asked whether he was being targeted because he was a Black man driving an older car. Troyer allegedly denied that he is racist at that point, saying his wife is Black.
Troyer refuted Altheimer's account of the incident, including the claim about his wife being Black.
“I didn’t even know he was Black until he was out of the car and the cops came. I never talked to him. I never talked to the guy,” Troyer said. “I couldn’t even tell you that he looked all that Black.”
In the 911 call, Troyer described Altheimer’s 1995 Geo Prizm as “beat-up” and “homeless-looking.”
“Hey, it’s Troyer. I’m at 27th and Deidra in Tacoma, in North End, about two blocks from my house, and I caught someone in my driveway who just threatened to kill me and I’ve blocked him in. He’s here right now," the officer said on the call. "I’m trying to be polite to him, but he says I’m a racist and wants to kill me.”
The call triggered 42 units from multiple agencies, including sheriff’s deputies and state troopers. Police found Altheimer sitting in his car in the middle of the street, facing Troyer, who was in his own vehicle about 50 feet away.
“They definitely scared me. I was really shocked,” the young man said, according to The Times. “I’m yelling ‘what are you guys here for? What am I doing wrong? You guys are trying to arrest a paper carrier.' These police officers just wasted a gallon of gas speeding over here — for what? I’m giving the people the news and I’m going home. I’ve got five kids.”
Police frisked the driver and searched his car for weapons. But it was filled only with newspapers.
While the police report stated that Altheimer “knew who Troyer was,” the driver said he only recognized the deputy's name after a Tacoma officer told him the county sheriff was driving the SUV.
“That’s the crazy thing. I never did threaten him. I was just asking questions, like ‘are you a cop?’” he said.
The police report also said Troyer “advised that [Altheimer] never threatened him,” but he was sure that the driver “wanted to fight.”
The sheriff tried to clarify his conflicting story in a written statement to KIRO Radio.
“What I told officers at the scene including my own was ‘no I don’t want to pursue a threats report,’” he said. “I think it was perceived as ‘no threats.’ It wasn’t an issue for me. I was fine letting it go.”