Court Issues No-Contact Order Against Sheriff Ed Troyer, Citing 'Unlawful Harassment' of Newspaper Carrier


A Pierce County judge Monday issued an anti-harassment order against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer, requiring him to stay 1,000 feet from a Black newspaper carrier for one year, citing continued incidents of "unlawful harassment."

The ruling came in a virtual hearing on whether to extend a temporary anti-harassment order that had been filed last month by an attorney for Sedrick Altheimer, the newspaper carrier who is suing Troyer and Pierce County over a highly publicized confrontation on Jan. 27, 2021.

In issuing the ruling Monday, Pierce County District Court Pro Tem Judge Christine Chin cited "a course of conduct of unlawful harassment," referring to multiple incidents in recent months in which Altheimer said Troyer followed him in his unmarked SUV, circling around and flashing his lights as he delivered newspapers in Tacoma.

"Considering the power that an individual like Sheriff Troyer holds, the anxiety and the harassment ... is going to have an impact on someone like Mr. Altheimer," said Chin, who referred to Troyer creating an "intended effect" by "trolling the neighborhood" and tailing Altheimer late at night.

Appearing with his attorney, Vonda Sargent, Altheimer testified under oath Monday about the encounters, saying he was left fearful by the continued contacts with Pierce County's top law enforcement officer. He tearfully said he was giving up his newspaper delivery job because "I don't feel safe any more."

Troyer did not initially show up for the hearing, but he was summoned by the judge. His attorney, John Sheeran, said Troyer would not be offering any testimony because of criminal charges pending against him.

Sheeran disputed Altheimer's claims of harassment, saying at the hearing that Troyer had encountered him only once since the January 2021 incident — while checking on his 84-year-old father, to whom Altheimer delivered a newspaper in April.

"It is unfortunate that today the pro tem judge decided to take the word of a person highly motivated by a pending civil lawsuit over a public servant with 37 years of dedicated service protecting the people of Pierce County," Sheeran said in an emailed statement after the judge's order. "Sheriff Troyer will continue to serve the public as he was elected to do. He looks forward to a jury vindicating him."

Troyer has faced criticism and calls for his resignation over his early morning Jan. 27, 2021 encounter with Altheimer, who was delivering newspapers on his regular route. Saying he believed Altheimer was acting suspiciously, Troyer tailed him in his personal, unmarked SUV, not identifying himself as law enforcement.

The two wound up in a standoff in a quiet West Tacoma intersection, and Troyer called in a massive police response, repeatedly telling an emergency dispatcher that Altheimer had threatened to kill him. Troyer backed off his threat claims upon questioning by Tacoma police.

In October, Troyer was charged with criminal misdemeanor counts of false reporting and making a false or misleading statement to a public servant over the incident. He has pleaded not guilty and called the charges brought by the state Attorney General's Office "a politically motivated anti-cop hit job."

A trial in that case was originally set for July but has been pushed to October.

Attorneys representing Altheimer filed a legal claim against Pierce County last June seeking at least $5 million in damages. A federal civil lawsuit seeking such damages is on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Separately, an investigation commissioned by the Pierce County Council, conducted by former U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, found Troyer's conduct had violated policies on bias-free policing and other professional standards.

Troyer in October also was placed on Pierce County's "Brady list" — a roster of law enforcement officers with credibility problems that could impact their ability to serve as witnesses in criminal cases.

The new anti-harassment order takes the place of a temporary one filed last month, which required Troyer to stay 500 feet from Altheimer. In a petition filed last month in support of the anti-harassment order, Altheimer wrote that Troyer had "repeatedly driven by me" in the most-recent encounter at around 3 a.m. on the morning of May 14. That was in addition to similar encounters in April and one last November, he wrote.

"I am a young black man and I know I will not be given the benefit of the doubt if Sheriff Troyer is able to convince other officers that I am a threat to his safety," Altheimer wrote. "I fear that he is setting me up for a scenario for him to either kill me or have me arrested."

In his statement on behalf of Troyer on Monday, Sheeran stated that Troyer "has no desire to have any contact with Mr. Altheimer whatsoever."