Washington State Sheriff Charged With False Reporting After Allegedly Stalking Black Newspaper Delivery Driver

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer said Sedrick Altheimer threatened his life, but their stories contradict each other.

A Washington state sheriff who officials say stalked a Black man delivering newspapers, accusing him of threatening his life and summoning dozens of officers to the scene to apprehend him has been charged with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.

In a news release, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced the charges against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer on Tuesday (October 19). Ferguson filed the charges in Pierce County District Court.

In a statement to CNN, Troyer claims the AG told the media about the charges before he or his legal team were and "the night of the incident, I was doing what I have done for decades -- investigate the possibility of criminal activity after neighbors and I had repeatedly become victims of property crime." He also believes the charges are politically motivated.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced in April he instructed the attorney general to investigate and called the initial reports of the incident “very concerning.”

RELATED: Washington Sheriff Admits Lying About Threats By Black Newspaper Delivery Driver

Sedrick Altheimer was on his regular newspaper delivery route on January 27 when he was confronted by Troyer, who made allegations that the 24-year-old “threatened to kill” him.

According to The Seattle Times, Troyer sparked a massive police response after an early morning encounter with Altheimer, who is Black. Troyer claims he did not racially profile Altheimer and followed him because he spotted a driver he believed was behaving suspiciously in his West End, Tacoma neighborhood, the report notes.

Troyer was reportedly driving an unmarked, personal SUV and did not identify himself as a law enforcement officer, the report says. He called 911 just after 2 a.m. on January 27, spurring an urgent alert and sent more than 40 officers from multiple agencies to the scene. Most were called off after Tacoma police arrived, the report says.

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Altheimer described what went down to The Times, recalling that he was working his regular delivery route when he noticed a big white SUV following him.

“I’m throwing papers out the window, left and right, both windows are down … and I see this SUV hit the block,” Altheimer said, noting he didn’t know it was the county sheriff behind the wheel because it was unmarked.

The two then passed each other before the SUV turned around to follow him, according to Altheimer. Subsequently, he says he placed a newspaper in a plastic cylinder at a home and then walked over to the SUV to ask why he was being followed.

“So I asked him, ‘Who are you?’” Altheimer said, adding that Troyer didn’t identify himself, but asked what he was doing in the neighborhood and “called me all types of names,” accusing him of being “a porch pirate,” slang for someone who steals packages from porches.

Altheimer claims Troyer never identified himself as a cop. He also says he never threatened him and was just asking questions about why he was being followed. That contradicts Troyer’s version of events, in which he claims he never spoke with Altheimer.

Altheimer was frisked for weapons by police and detained while police searched his car, the backseat of which was filled with newspapers.

Altheimer says the incident left him angry and frightened for his own life. He recalls keeping his hands in sight as one of the officers had drawn a gun.

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“They definitely scared me. I was really shocked,” Altheimer said. “I’m yelling ‘what are you guys here for? What am I doing wrong? You guys are trying to arrest a paper carrier!’ These police officers just wasted a gallon of gas speeding over here — for what? I’m giving the people the news and I’m going home. I’ve got five kids.”

After his statements about what happened on January 27 contained inconsistencies that at times contradicted his recorded call to an emergency dispatcher, Troyer officially recanted his claim that Altheimer threatened to kill him.

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