More than four months after Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer phoned in an emergency call about an attempted theft from his vehicle, Tacoma police on Tuesday wrote a formal report about the incident.
Police commanders ordered the report documenting the sheriff’s account of his Nov. 11 skirmish with alleged theft suspects after The Seattle Times detailed the events — and the lack of police documentation — in a news story Tuesday.
“Command went through the incident, talked to the officers who responded to the call, and decided, You know what? Let’s go take the report from Sheriff Troyer,” Officer Shelbie Boyd, a Tacoma police spokesperson, said.
Troyer, in a phone interview Tuesday, said a Tacoma officer called and took a statement from him earlier in the day. The sheriff also said he turned over to police photos and videos he’d taken of the suspects, and footage from a gas station’s surveillance camera across the street that captured part of the incident at North 25th and North Stevens streets.
The reported car prowl is one of at least two recent incidents that drew high-priority police responses after Troyer called emergency dispatchers to describe his off-duty confrontations with alleged suspects. Both incidents, which came to light only in recent days, resulted in quick clearances with no arrests and occurred within three months of Troyer winning election as Pierce County’s top law enforcement official.
The Nov. 11 incident came to light publicly last week, as part of a recorded conversation between a dispatcher and a police officer discussing the gravity of a more recent response to a call by Troyer, during which he mistook a Black man delivering newspapers for a prowler in his neighborhood. The sheriff is now facing intense criticism, including calls for his resignation and an outside investigation to be commissioned by the Pierce County Council, over that Jan. 27 incident.
A report taken by Tacoma police for the Jan. 27 incident indicates that Troyer retracted his repeated claims to a dispatcher that the newspaper carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, threatened to kill him.
Troyer has said the officer who took the report got it “wrong.” Altheimer denies he threatened Troyer, and Tacoma police stand by the report.
Despite department policies that say incident reports should be taken any time a citizen reports a crime, Tacoma officers didn’t initially take a report for the November incident that occurred eight days after Troyer won election as the county’s new sheriff. At about 10:22 p.m., Troyer phoned a dispatcher over an internal hotline to ask for a priority unit to be sent to his campaign office.
“I just caught some people breaking into my car and got into a little skirmish with them and photos and they bailed,” he said during the 46-second call. Troyer added the suspects “were not very nice, and I’m afraid they’re going to come back.”
Troyer has said he and his wife were packing up the office and left the car open when he saw the suspects pull up, and one get into his vehicle. Troyer said he wrestled away a wallet and other items through the suspects’ car window before they fled. His emergency call drew five Tacoma police cars to the scene and several more canceled while en route.
Dispatch records show Troyer gave a license-plate number and described the suspects as “two Black males wearing puffy jackets.” The sheriff said Tuesday he actually told officers the suspects were wearing “pullovers.” Police didn’t attempt to track the suspects and cleared the call within 13 minutes, records show.
“A report should have been taken that day,” Troyer said. “But I didn’t make a big deal out of it.”
The Tacoma police statement Tuesday said officers “noted no damage to Sheriff Troyer’s vehicle, and Sheriff Troyer stated no items were missing.”