The Pierce County Council will hire an independent investigator to probe Sheriff Ed Troyer’s conduct during a Jan. 27 confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier near his Tacoma home.
Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young announced the investigation Tuesday afternoon after a closed council executive session, directing council staff to “begin the process” of finding someone to conduct an investigation “into the events recently reported in the news media” about Troyer.
In a news release, the council said the timeline and scope of the investigation would depend on details of whatever contract proposal is brought to the council for approval in the coming weeks.
Troyer said he welcomes the council investigation. “I welcome it and I will be fully cooperative and hopefully it will clear things up for everybody involved,” he said.
Troyer, who is independently elected and does not report to the council, has faced calls from some civil rights advocates and Democratic organizations for his resignation or suspension over the Jan. 27 encounter, first reported by The Seattle Times last week.
On Monday night, Democratic Party leaders for the 29th and 27th Legislative districts of Tacoma passed a resolution demanding Troyer resign immediately, saying in a joint statement the incident “could have left another Black man dead at the hands of police.”
Troyer has rebuffed those calls, saying he didn’t do anything wrong.
Troyer says he did not know the race of the carrier, 24-year-old Sedrick Altheimer, when he got in his personal SUV to investigate what he said was a suspicious vehicle near his home.
After following and getting into a standoff at around 2 a.m., Troyer called emergency dispatchers, repeatedly saying Altheimer was threatening to kill him. That drew a massive police response, with more than 40 units rushing toward the scene, though most were called off after Tacoma police arrived.
Altheimer, who was delivering papers on his regular route that night, said he never threatened Troyer and that the aggressive police response left him fearing for his life.
Upon questioning by Tacoma police, Troyer backed off his claim about death threats, saying Altheimer “never threatened him,” according to a police incident report.
Troyer denies he recanted his threat allegations. He said the report by officer Chad Lawless is inaccurate and that Altheimer did threaten him but that he didn’t want to press charges.
A Tacoma police spokesperson said this week the department stands by Lawless’ report.
The County Council news release said more information about the investigation will be forthcoming. “As this process moves forward, Council is committed to keeping the public informed and will provide regular updates,” the news release said.
Young said the investigation may extend beyond the events of Jan. 27. “I think it’s fair to say it will be broader, but the scope will be determined by the contract,” he said in a text message.