Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer would have us believe he’s the victim. Hear him say it, and the ethical and legal saga that followed his fateful Jan.27 meeting with newspaper delivery boy Sedrick Altheimer begins to sound like an awakened anarchist plot to undo him and all the other red-blooded cops. in the street. It’s like the CHOP area of Seattle again, he suggests. It’s time for the good guys to stand up and fight.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t buy it. Not a minute.
It’s a complicated story about a lot of things – right and wrong, actions and consequences, race, and the high standard we have every right to demand from elected law enforcement officials.
It is not a successful job. Troyer brought it all onto himself.
On Tuesday, as readers of the News Tribune, New York Times and Washington Post are now aware, Troyer was charged with one count of making false statements and one count of misrepresenting an official. Filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who was handled by Gov. Jay Inslee on the case, what will happen next to the beleaguered Pierce County Sheriff is both predictable and unknown. Legal proceedings will follow, but their outcome – and the ultimate trajectory of Troyer’s tenure – have yet to be decided. The Seattle Times editorial board and other invested groups have already called for his resignation. While it’s not in Troyer’s DNA, like the “Resignation, Ed” signs that have become staple in Tacoma, it’s not hard to see why so many people have rightly lost confidence.
Sadly, at the root of the matter lies a question that may never be answered satisfactorily: whether or not Troyer, who is white, believed that Altheimer, who is black, was threatening his life when he told so much to the 911 dispatchers (and if Troyer corrected himself when the agents arrived). We know what Altheimer says, what the police report says, and what the unused body camera reveals – nothing. We also know what Troyer said in the months that followed, despite evidence to the contrary. As much as we yearn for immediacy and closure, so too will the slow wheels of justice take it from here.
Left with little influence over what will happen in front of a judge – beyond the rights granted to him as a defendant – it was not surprising to see Troyer go on the attack this week, bearing his attempts. to control the story before the divisional court. public opinion. In the Trump era, deviations and dog whistles became standard operating procedure, and Troyer was quick to trot all the stuff in the book.
In a statement released to media in response to the charges, Troyer described Ferguson’s decision as “politically motivated” and “anti-cop.” He then claimed – quite ridiculously – that the ultimate goal of the state attorney general was to “fund the police.”
“Ferguson is an anti-law and order and anti-cop politician who tries to score points for political gain,” Troyer said. “This attorney general has taken it upon himself to attack the cops because it will make him headlines and advance his anti-cop agenda.”
“I am built for this challenge and I will fight it until the end,” the statement added.
I’ll stop Troyer there, before he takes his shirt off, jumps off the top turnbuckle, or wraps himself in the Blue Lives Matter flag. Although he correctly assessed that he is fighting for his job and his reputation, his delusional description of the situation is patently laughable. The Pierce County Sheriff may be a non-partisan position, but Troyer’s defense feels like a conservative radio fever dream.
Let’s take Troyer’s assertions for what they’re worth, which, frankly, isn’t much.
Is Ferguson aiming to fund the police, or more specifically the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department? Of course not. While Ferguson is a liberal darling – and he’s the only party that appears to have an interest in overdue police reform that recognizes the role of racism – even though Ferguson wanted to cut local police budgets, he didn’t does not have the power to do so (which goes without saying). All Troyer comes up with is noise and buzzwords to entice the right. No one is funding the police in Pierce County.
Then there are the public perceptions at play, which Troyer also seems to have misjudged. Could holding Troyer to account be seen as a win for Ferguson? Sure. Why? Because making sure that cops – and especially those in positions of power – follow the same laws the rest of us are accountable to is something many voters in Washington rightly support. Even if it were politics, it wouldn’t hurt.
As I mentioned at the start, what happens from here remains to be seen. As frustrating as it can be, barring an unexpected resignation, all we can do is wait for the legal system to take its course while Pierce County Council stands ready to conclude its own independent investigation into Troyer’s morning activities. The time it takes to get it right is well spent.
Until then, for Troyer, one thing remains certain, whether he is able to admit it or not.
He is not the victim here.
While Troyer is presumed innocent until proven guilty, like everyone else charged with a felony, Pierce County sheriff-elect is under fire for one thing, and only one:
His own words and actions.
This story was originally published October 22, 2021 5:00 a.m.