Trial gets underway for Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer on false reporting charges
A jury has been selected and attorneys on Wednesday delivered their opening statements in the trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
Troyer is charged with two misdemeanors for false reporting and making false statements, stemming from his off-duty encounter with a Black newspaper carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, in January 2021.
Prosecutors say Troyer followed Altheimer and accused him of being a thief, before calling a 911 dispatcher and saying, according to the recording, “I'm about two blocks from my house and I caught someone in my driveway who's threatened to kill me and I blocked him in and he's here right now.”
The call triggered an emergency response, but according to the complaint, Troyer then reversed himself, and told Tacoma police that Altheimer never threatened him.
“In effect, Sheriff Troyer backpedaled from his statements to the 911 dispatcher about Mr. Altheimer threatening to kill him — statements that prompted more than 40 officers to rush to him, and caused Mr. Altheimer to be questioned as a possible suspect," said Barbara Serrano with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office in her opening statement.
Serrano said the state will endeavor to show that Troyer knowingly lied about facing a threat.
“This case is quite simple. Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer got into a confrontation with a newspaper carrier and then lied to a 911 dispatcher reporting that the newspaper carrier threatened to kill him.”
Defense attorney Anne Bremner said she will emphasize that Troyer called a non-emergency phoneline to reach the dispatcher, and that the emergency response was quickly curtailed so that most police officers never arrived on the scene. In her opening statement, she maintained that Troyer was merely looking out for his neighbors when he followed Altheimer. She said that she will disprove the prosecution’s claims.
“They have to prove that he willingly lied,” Bremner said. “How could they ever prove that? Because that claim is false.”
Bremner said the case by Troyer’s defense will be focused on questioning the credibility of two people. One of them is Tacoma police officer Chad Lawless, now a detective, who interviewed Troyer at the scene and said Troyer backtracked on his claim of being threatened. Bremner said Lawless “didn’t memorialize his conversation in any way, saying something different than what the Sheriff says.”
The other person that Troyer’s defense team will try to discredit is Sedrick Altheimer, the newspaper carrier. Bremner told the jury Altheimer has a financial motivation in this case because he’s filed a civil lawsuit seeking $5 million in damages. Bremner said the accounts of the police who responded to the scene are at odds with one another. Some of those officers are expected to testify on Thursday.