Jury selection is to begin Monday in the trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer, who faces two misdemeanor criminal charges over his confrontation last year with a Black newspaper carrier.

Troyer is charged with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a civil servant for triggering a massive police response by telling an emergency dispatcher the newspaper carrier was threatening to kill him — and then walking back that claim when questioned by Tacoma police.

A six-member jury will decide whether Troyer is guilty of the charges in a week-and-a-half-long trial, with opening statements scheduled for Nov. 28 in Pierce County District Court in Tacoma.

Because of high public interest, the trial will be livestreamed on the court’s website.

If convicted, Troyer could face a standard sentencing range of up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine on each count, according to the Attorney General’s Office. A conviction could also provide legal grounds for Troyer’s removal for “malfeasance in office.”

Troyer, who was elected sheriff in 2020, has denied wrongdoing, saying he was following a suspicious vehicle spotted near his home. He has called the charges, filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office last October, a “politically motivated anti-cop hit job.“

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The charges stem from Troyer’s conduct during the early morning hours of Jan. 27, 2021. While driving his unmarked personal SUV, Troyer followed the newspaper carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, who was working his regular delivery route in Tacoma’s West End.

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The two wound up in a 2 a.m. standoff with their cars facing each other in a quiet intersection. Troyer called an emergency dispatcher, stating four times that Altheimer was threatening to kill him, in the recorded call, later publicly released.

Ed troyer trial

For more information on the Ed Troyer trial and how to watch it, visit the Pierce County District Court website.

His claims triggered a massive police response, as the dispatcher sent out an alert to all Pierce County law enforcement agencies at the highest priority level, indicating the sheriff’s life might be in danger.

About 40 officers initially sped toward the scene, with most called off after Tacoma police arrived. Ultimately, 14 officers and sheriff’s deputies, including three sergeants and a lieutenant, responded.

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Upon questioning, Troyer contradicted his repeated claims to the dispatcher that Altheimer had threatened him, according to a police report written by Tacoma officer Chad Lawless, who is among several officers expected to be called to testify at the trial.

The incident stayed under wraps until that March, when The Seattle Times published an article detailing the encounter. At the time, Troyer said he was surprised the incident had been documented by a Tacoma police report.

Altheimer, who was frisked and detained, but not arrested, has said he feared for his life that night and expressed anger at Troyer following him and falsely accusing him of threats.

“He’s lying. He’s lying. So what happens to him?” he said to officers that night, asking whether Troyer would face consequences. He has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Pierce County, seeking millions of dollars in damages.

Troyer, who has worked for more than three decades in the Sheriff’s Office, has faced widespread community criticism and calls for his resignation since the incident became public.

He was added last October to the Pierce County prosecuting attorney’s “Brady list” of law enforcement witnesses with credibility problems. An independent investigation commissioned by the Pierce County Council found Troyer had violated his own department’s policies on bias-free policing and off-duty conduct.

Presiding over the trial will be Jeffrey Jahns, a visiting judge from Kitsap County, who in July threatened to jail Troyer and ordered him to post $100,000 bail for violating the terms of his pretrial release by contacting Altheimer.