State BLM coalition calls for suspension, review of Pierce County Sheriff’s officer certification
In the wake of an incident in early January where Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer called the police on a Black delivery driver, the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance (WBLMA) is demanding that Troyer’s certification as an officer be put under review.
The WBLMA — a coalition of leaders from Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, BLM Tri-Cities, the NAACP, WA State Democrats, the Institute for Black Justice, and more — addressed a letter to the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) on Wednesday. In it, the group asks the commission to review Sheriff Troyer’s status as a certified peace officer, and immediately suspend that status pending the outcome of its review.
“Ed Troyer displayed explicit racial bias, and deployed excessive force based on a lie,” the letter reads. “His actions amount to reckless endangerment, and he is unfit for duty.”
The WBLMA’s letter cites a state statute that says the CJTC can revoke an officer’s certification if it has “probable cause.” The CJTC clarified that statute in its response to the coalition Wednesday, noting that the statute only allows the commission to “investigate or take action against a peace officer under very specific criteria.”
That criteria is limited to instances where an officer has either been convicted for a felony offense, or has been “discharged for disqualifying conduct.” Because of that, the CJTC says that an investigation into Troyer’s certification is “not being conducted at this time.”
The incident in question was first reported on by the Seattle Times, describing how Troyer had reported seeing a car moving in and out of a neighbor’s driveway at 2 a.m. with its headlights off. He then confronted the driver, identified as 24-year-old Sedrick Altheimer, before making a call to dispatch that had an estimated 42 units from around the region sent to the scene.
Troyer claimed three separate times in the call that Altheimer had threatened to kill him. Altheimer has since denied he made any such threats, while a statement taken by a Tacoma police officer at the scene says that the Pierce County Sheriff later advised him he was “never threatened.”
While the Tacoma Police Department stands by that account, Troyer has since said that the officer’s report was “wrong,” maintaining that Altheimer had indeed threatened him.
The WBLMA’s letter focuses largely around the discrepancies surrounding Troyer’s claim, accusing him of levying “an intentional, repeated lie to 911 dispatchers,” and arguing that he should be “arrested for making a false report.”
“He has violated the policies of the department and the county,” the letter continues. “He has abused the public trust, and abused, misused, and weaponized his standing in law enforcement to harm Black and Brown Lives. His actions are unacceptable, his harms irreparable.”
Meanwhile, the Pierce County Council has directed its staff to begin the process of finding someone to conduct an independent investigation into Troyer as well. Troyer issued a statement shortly after the council announced its investigation, saying that he “looks forward” to its findings and “welcomes this inquiry.”