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Investigation to determine whether Pierce County sheriff has ‘pattern of misuse of authority’

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. (KIRO 7)

Pierce County Council released an update on its investigation into Sheriff Ed Troyer on Tuesday, laying out its expansive scope in the coming weeks.

Conflicting accounts after sheriff calls police on Black delivery driver

That came alongside the announcement that former U.S. District Attorney Brian Moran has accepted the Pierce County Council’s offer to lead the investigation, after the two parties agreed to expand the scope of the inquiry.

Troyer recently came under scrutiny following the revelation of a late-January incident, where he called the police on a Black newspaper delivery driver. Then, in late March, Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young directed council staff to begin the process of investigating the incident.

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.

On Tuesday evening, Young laid out the scope of the investigation agreed to by the former district attorney, noting that “modified language goes further than the original to serve the Council’s goal of having a truly independent investigation, while also providing accountability to the council and the public we serve.”

Over the course of the inquiry, Moran will be directed to “determine the facts of what occurred” during the incident with the newspaper delivery driver, whether Troyer abused his authority during that incident, whether Troyer’s actions were racially motivated, and if there’s an established history of similar incidents involving the sheriff.

According to reporting from the Seattle Times, Troyer had at least one other instance where a call from him to dispatch yielded an outsized response for a seemingly minor offense, after he “caught some people” breaking into his car shortly before he was elected sheriff. In that incident, 11 police officers were sent out to respond, before being called off by the first officer to arrive on the scene.

‘Important’ that investigation into Pierce County Sheriff isn’t political

Moran will be tasked with digging into Troyer’s conduct between Jan. 1, 2020, and Jan. 27, 2021, to figure out whether these are isolated cases, or if they’re indicative of a larger, more concerning pattern of behavior.

At the conclusion of the investigation, Moran will weigh those facts to decide whether Troyer abused his authority, and eventually “may provide any appropriate recommendations for oversight or other procedures that could prevent or discourage similar misconduct in the future.”

Although the council’s ability to regulate and oversee the sheriff’s office is limited, Moran will still have the ability to subpoena witnesses and administer oaths.

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