Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer must apologize to the Black newspaper delivery driver he summoned police to confront Jan. 27. That’s at minimum.
Seattle Times reporters Lewis Kamb and Jim Brunner pieced together an account of the middle-of-the-night encounter that raises serious questions about Troyer’s conduct. To dispatchers, the white sheriff repeatedly claimed that the man threatened his life — information that could have gotten an innocent person killed. His constituents and agency he leads deserve a full explanation.
Elected in November, the sheriff needs to come clean publicly about the full circumstances of that evening. Especially in these times, the arrogance of his actions is shocking. He sets the tone for how his 300 officers enforce the law in the state’s second-largest county. Their duties must be carried out equitably, and Troyer must set a better example.
According to the report, Troyer instigated the 2 a.m. encounter with 24-year-old driver Sedrick Altheimer, then made a 911 call that initially drew 42 police cars from different jurisdictions toward his quiet West Tacoma neighborhood. Soon, most were waved off.
Troyer needs to tell the truth and clear up the stark contradictions between what he said during the recorded 911 call and what he has said since. During the call, Troyer said he had Altheimer’s car blocked in, then said he was the one blocked in. Troyer told the dispatcher at least twice that Altheimer threatened him, recanted that at the scene to a Tacoma police officer, told a Seattle Times interviewer he “never talked to the guy,” then reportedly told a KIRO-FM reporter he was threatened when they spoke.
If Troyer can’t get his story straight given so many opportunities, voters are right to question his fitness to hold office. Just months into his four-year term, his missteps cannot be written off as rookie mistakes. Troyer has spent 35 years at the sheriff’s office, many of them as the agency’s high-profile spokesperson.
These discrepancies are even more troubling because it follows his claims to media after the Tacoma Police killing of Manny Ellis that officers had neither choked Ellis nor put knees on his head — both disproved by video. The Pierce sheriff’s office initially investigated that death even though at least one deputy had been involved with the scene.
Pierce County government has administrative and budget oversight over the rest of the department — but not the sheriff. Troyer should do some soul-searching about his actions, including his characterization of his encounter with a Black man just doing his job. That example is a poor one for the department he leads.
It is on Troyer to atone for this incident. Other community leaders, elected and otherwise, and voters should not rest until he comes clean.