On Tuesday, the Washington State attorney general’s office charged Sheriff Ed Troyer, who is white, with two misdemeanors after he lied about being threatened by a Black man just trying to do his job, which was to deliver newspapers in a white suburban neighborhood. Can’t we even deliver papers in peace?
Troyer—who smells a lot like stand-your-ground murderer George Zimmerman—was charged with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant after he stalked Sedrick Altheimer, a Black newspaper carrier in his 20s.
The obvious case of racial profiling took place on Jan. 27 in Tacoma, Washington. Altheimer was just innocently delivering the Tacoma News Tribune newspapers when he noticed a white man in a white SUV tracking him.
After several minutes of being hunted by Troyer, Altheimer did the right thing: He stopped his car and asked Troyer why he was following him. “Is it because I’m Black?” he asked. Troyer then tells him, “My wife is Black.” Altheimer responds, “Congratulations.” Then he asked Troyer if he was a police officer, to which the Pierce County sheriff did not respond or tell the truth and identify himself. Instead, he accused Altheimer of being a “porch pirate” and then called for backup.
Altheimer would tell the police that he felt afraid, so he got back into his car and started to drive away. Troyer, of course, followed. After a few minutes, Altheimer stopped and the two cars were face-to-face about 50 feet apart, according to police records.
Troyer then called 911 and told a big fat lie, claiming that Altheimer threatened to kill him. He repeated the lie four times on the phone, which sent the police department into to TV-style high alert, interpreting the moment as an “officer needs help” and escalating things. Over 40 officers arrived on the scene to save Troyer, the tracker, from the scary Black newspaper delivery guy.
Troyer stayed on the line waiting for the police and continued his lie, saying he “tried to be polite,” but he [Altheimer] says I’m a racist. He wants to kill me so … ”
The first two officers on the scene demanded Altheimer keep his hands on the wheel.
“He’s following me! Go talk to him. I am working! I’m a Black man in a white neighborhood and I am working,” Altheimer told the officers.
The Washington Post reports that in April, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee referred the case to the attorney general’s office.
“The initial reports of these events were very concerning to me, and I had hoped to see some action taken to initiate a criminal investigation at the local level. But, to my knowledge, that has not happened almost three months after the incident,” Inslee said at the time. “So now the state is stepping in.”
At the time of the incident, Troyer told the Post that when he began following Altheimer, he wasn’t aware he was Black, but insists he felt threatened. Today, he says he feels targeted by the attorney general’s investigation, calling it “a blatant and politically motivated anti-cop hit job,” according to The Seattle Times.
“Sheriff Troyer’s statements to witnesses that night—that Mr. Altheimer was trying to kill him and used his vehicle as a weapon—are flags to other officers that they should arrive on the scene ready to use deadly force. There is only one conclusion we can draw from that: Sheriff Troyer intended to do harm to Mr. Altheimer,” The Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance said in a statement demanding Troyer’s resignation.
If convicted, Troyer could face a sentence for both offenses of up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
On the night of the event, after being frisked and questions, Altheimer asked the police, “What happens to him? What happens to a liar?”
Troyer’s is an elected position, so he can’t be fired or disciplined, essentially giving him free rein to do as he pleases without consequences—at least for the length of his term.
Troyer’s actions were dangerous and deadly. When race is weaponized by people in power, Black people end up dead.
The sheriff has had months to tell the public what really happened that night and take accountability and he hasn’t.
Now it’s time for him to go.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.