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Washington sheriff charged over confrontation with Black man

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state attorney general on Tuesday filed two misdemeanor criminal charges against a county sheriff stemming from his confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier in January.

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer faces one count of false reporting and one count of making a false statement to a civil servant for claiming to an emergency dispatcher that the carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, had threatened to kill him. The charges were filed in Pierce County District Court by Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Troyer, who has denied wrongdoing, criticized the decision.

“I have never had a sustained or founded complaint in 37 years,” he told The Seattle Times. “I have never had a complaint of racial bias, use of force or sexual discrimination even filed.”

Altheimer, 24, was driving on his regular delivery route on Jan. 27 when Troyer noticed the vehicle, got out of bed and began following it in his unmarked personal SUV. Troyer said he believed it might have been someone stealing delivery packages off porches.

The two wound up in a 2 a.m. standoff in which Troyer called an emergency dispatcher, saying the newspaper carrier had threatened to kill him.

The call from the county’s top law-enforcement officer prompted a large response, with more than 40 units from various agencies rushing toward to the scene.

Troyer repeatedly told dispatchers Altheimer “threatened to kill me.” Altheimer denied making any threats and said Troyer did not identify himself as a law-enforcement officer.

In a statement to a responding officer, Troyer acknowledged that Altheimer did not threaten him, the Attorney General’s Office wrote in a probable cause statement.

Troyer is a 35-year veteran of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and served for years as the agency’s public face and media spokesperson before being elected sheriff in November 2020. Pierce County has more than 900,000 residents and is Washington’s second-most populous county.

If convicted, the standard sentencing range for the misdemeanor sentences is up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

Attorneys representing Altheimer filed a tort claim against Pierce County in June, alleging that Troyer’s actions amounted to “racial profiling, false arrest and unnecessary use of force.” The claim, a precursor to a possible lawsuit, seeks millions of dollars in damages.

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