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Washington Sheriff Urged To Resign After Calling 911 On Black Newspaper Delivery Driver

Washington Sheriff Urged To Resign After Calling 911 On Black Newspaper Delivery Driver

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer in Washington is being asked to resign from his position after he allegedly falsified information during a 911 call.

Back in January, Troyer (who is White) allegedly reported that a Black delivery driver was trespassing, trying to steal packages from residential porches, and that the driver, since identified as Sedrick Altheimer, "threatened" his life.

As a result of Troyer's call, more than 40 deputy cars showed up in the residential neighborhood.

But once the Tacoma Police Department realized that the situation wasn't what it seemed, Troyer's report was called into question.

You can hear the full dispatch call here:

As it turned out, Ed Troyer and Sedrick Altheimer had very different stories.

Altheimer attested that he was delivering newspapers on the night in question, and that he drove in sort of a zigzag pattern as he went back and forth down the street, delivering papers to people's porches.

All was going as normal until Troyer's white, unmarked SUV appeared in the neighborhood and began to closely trail Altheimer.

Altheimer recalled:

"I'm throwing papers out the window, left and right, both windows are down ... and I see this SUV hit the block."
"I continue what I'm doing, because, you know, I'm working."
"I'm not doing any harm to the neighborhood. I work here every night."

But after the SUV continued to trail him, Altheimer reported that he exited his vehicle to determine why Troyer was following him.

Altheimer said that Troyer did not identify himself or his role as an officer, and Altheimer similarly felt no need to share that he was delivering papers.

Altheimer also reported that he inquired if Troyer was following him because he was Black, and he stated that Troyer argued that this was not the case, that he was not racist, and that his wife was even Black (even though she's actually of Pacific Islander descent).

After making no progress this way, Altheimer continued delivering papers. But when Troyer continued following him, Altheimer turned his car around to face the SUV. They blinked their headlights at each other.

In response, Troyer called 911 and reported that Altheimer had threatened him, which led to over 40 patrol cars on the scene.

The police checked Altheimer's car and found the backseat to be full of newspapers, and they were also able to later confirm that the neighborhood was on Altheimer's regular route. Altheimer was also compliant and unharmed.

Troyer backtracked on his story after receiving pressure.

After the police appeared on the scene and discovered the newspapers in the back of Altheimer's car and determined that he was unarmed, Troyer backtracked on the earlier statement that Altheimer had threatened to kill him.

Troyer also argued that he had not mentioned his wife's ethnicity.

Strangely enough, Troyer went so far as to say that the two men had not spoken at all.

Troyer also said, instead of following Altheimer's car, that he had been at home in bed, and when he heard the delivery car pull into his driveway, he had gone out to investigate, which led to the alleged altercation.

Troyer's community felt uncomfortable after the story was released months later.

Jamika Scott, a member of the community, stated:

"People are feeling scared that this happened months ago and we're just now hearing about it, very similar to what happened to Mannie Ellis, it took months for that to come out, as well."
"It does not make this community feel safe."
"It does not make this community feel willing to trust law enforcement when we can't even trust them to be transparent about bad behavior from people within their own ranks."

Sakara Remmu, from the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance, stated:

"Whether or not he has repaired one-on-one individual harm, this is about public safety."
"He leads the sheriff's department. The sheriff's department is often relied upon by other law enforcement agencies, within and outside its jurisdiction, and his judgment is impaired by explicit racial bias."

The Editorial Board at The Seattle Times also wrote:

"If Troyer can't get his story straight given so many opportunities, voters are right to question his fitness to hold office. It is on Troyer to atone for this incident. Other community leaders, elected and otherwise, and voters should not rest until he comes clean."

You can hear more about the community's reactions here:

Troyer has since argued that he has felt he's been treated unfairly during this process.

Troyer had an interview with radio station KING 5, in which he discussed coverage of the initial story, written by The Seattle Times.

"[The writers at The Seattle Times] didn't let me respond to some of their accusations, and they clearly guided it in one direction."
"I believe that can possibly be attributed to, and I believe it's been made very clear on this show and other shows and throughout my election that I said I will not let Pierce County become King County, and I hope our area doesn't become like Seattle."

Despite at one time stating that the two men never spoke to each other, Troyer now stands by his original dispatch call and says that he felt threatened.

Troyer stated:

"I am saddened to learn that Mr. Altheimer felt he was treated in an unfair manner."
"I am committed to continuing the ongoing dialogue with our community to ensure that policing in Pierce County is free of racial bias and performed in a manner that upholds the public trust."

Many on Twitter have agreed in the call for Troyer's resignation.

Up to this point, Troyer has not resigned from his post, and it's unclear if he will do so.

But like many other recent stories of police engagement with Black and other POC community members, further training needs to be offered in regards to racial sensitivity and emotional regulation during heated moments.