Washington state officials are taking action against a local sheriff after investigating profiling a Black newspaper carrier. But local activists say that’s not enough. The Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance wants Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer to resign.
“Sheriff Troyer’s statements to witnesses that night—that Mr. Altheimer was trying to kill him and used his vehicle as a weapon—are flags to other officers that they should arrive on the scene ready to use deadly force,” the statement read. “There is only one conclusion we can draw from that: Sheriff Troyer intended to do harm to Mr. Altheimer, who was doing nothing more than delivering the newspaper.”
According to the statement, the Department of Justice is reviewing a complaint filed by the group against Troyer. In January, Troyer followed Sedrick Altheimer, a Black newspaper carrier, without just cause or provocation.
Body camera footage shared by The News Tribune shows an exasperated Altheimer just asking to be left alone so he can do his job.
“I’m a Black male in a white neighborhood, and I’m working,” he exclaimed. An officer approaching Altheimer tells him to keep his hands on the steering wheel and says they will figure things out. Clearly distressed and just trying to complete his route, Altheimer again shouts he’s just working.
The News Tribune also reported Troyer was indignant about the charges claiming he has never had a claim substantiated against him or had an allegation of racial or gender discrimination filed against him. But never having a claim filed doesn’t mean his actions have always been above board.
The charges against Troyer aren’t even directly for harassment or racial profiling but for filing a false report and lying to a public officer. After an investigation into the incident, Troyer’s case was referred to the attorney general for consideration in April, three months after the initial incident.
If convicted, Troyer could get hit with a fine of up to $5,000 and potentially serve less than a year in jail. According to the Associated Press, Pierce County is the state’s second larges county by population. Troyer was just elected last November, previously serving as the agency’s spokesperson.
This incident could’ve gone really wrong with the heavy police presence and a senior law enforcement veteran alleging his life was in danger. From news reports, Troyer lied and said Altheimer repeatedly threatened to kill him but later retracted his claim to an officer on the scene.
Local news KIRO 7 reported over 40 law enforcement vehicles responded to the scene after the sheriff claimed someone threatened to kill him. He later told responding officers it wasn’t true.