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caption: In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, then-Pierce County Sheriff's Dept. spokesman Det. Ed Troyer answers questions during a news conference in Tacoma, Wash. The Washington state attorney general on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, filed two misdemeanor criminal charges against Troyer, now the Pierce County sheriff, stemming from his confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier in January. Troyer has denied wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
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In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, then-Pierce County Sheriff's Dept. spokesman Det. Ed Troyer answers questions during a news conference in Tacoma, Wash. The Washington state attorney general on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, filed two misdemeanor criminal charges against Troyer, now the Pierce County sheriff, stemming from his confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier in January. Troyer has denied wrongdoing. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Credit: Ted S. Warren

Attorney general files criminal charges against Pierce County sheriff

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer has been charged with two misdemeanors by the Washington state attorney general.

He's charged with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, over the incident he prompted with a newspaper carrier.

Last January, Troyer followed the carrier at about 2:00 a.m. and told police dispatchers that the man, who is Black, threatened to kill him. That driver later said he was in fear for his life due to the police response and Troyer's actions.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has weighed the case for more than six months and today filed the charges against the sheriff in Pierce County District Court.

Troyer will be arraigned in court Nov. 1 in a virtual hearing.

In a statement to KUOW, Troyer says "AG Ferguson has sought to escalate and exaggerate the incident for political reasons and spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours investigating a misdemeanor that did not happen." He calls the charges an "anti-cop hit job".

According to the charging papers, newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer says on Jan. 27, Troyer starting following him from an unmarked SUV. Altheimer was working an early morning paper route.

Altheimer asked if he was being followed because he is Black, to which Troyer responded that his wife is Black. He asked Troyer whether he was a cop, to which Troyer did not respond.

The sheriff then used a back channel to connect with 911 dispatchers and told them "I’m at 27th and Deidra, in Tacoma, North End, about two blocks from my house and I caught someone in my driveway who just threatened to kill me and I blocked him in. And he’s here right now."

Altheimer had driven down the road, and at this point was about 50 feet away and taking photos of Troyer's SUV.

However, Troyer stated four times that the man threatened to kill him, and claimed both that he had blocked in the person and that the person "blocked me in".

About 40 law enforcement officers started rushing to the scene. Sirens rang out. Altheimer stayed in his car, newspapers piled up in the backseat.

The police response was then called off after 14 officers arrived, and found both men in their own vehicles and far apart from one another. Still, Altheimer was frisked for weapons. Soon after he was released to continue his job.

Altheimer has since filed a tort claim against Pierce County, in which he says he suffered severe emotional distress from the broad officer response, removal from his car, and Troyer's actions, all while he was delivering papers for the Tacoma News Tribune.

The complaint also says that he was the victim of racial profiling.

The Pierce County Sheriff's office says Troyer remains the elected sheriff and is presumed innocent until proven guilty. According to a statement from the office, the sheriff has instructed the department to continue to fulfill their duties without interruption or distraction. Troyer will not get support from the county to pay legal fees. The News Tribune reports that the Pierce County Council already voted against his request to hire outside legal council.

The council has paused its own investigation of Troyer until the attorney general's office concludes its work.