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Pierce County prosecutor adds Sheriff Ed Troyer to list of law enforcement with credibility issues

In this Feb. 18, 2020, photo, then-Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer answers questions during a news conference in Tacoma. Troyer was elected Pierce County sheriff in November.
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press (file)
In this Feb. 18, 2020, photo, then-Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer answers questions during a news conference in Tacoma.

In the past two weeks, Pierce County's top law enforcement officer has been charged with misdemeanor crimes and found to have violated his department's policies, according to an independent investigation. Now, Sheriff Ed Troyer is on a list of law enforcement officers with credibility issues.

The so-called "Brady list" is kept by a prosecutor's office to note those who have repeated incidents of making false statements or other issues that could cast doubt on their credibility — and be a problem in court.

The Pierce County prosecutor's office told KNKX Public Radio that it doesn't use the term "Brady list," but that a committee determined Friday that Troyer is on the "list of recurring witnesses with potential impeachment information."

This follows Troyer's not guilty plea this week in connection with charges stemming from an off-duty confrontation with a Black newspaper carrier in January. Last week, The state Attorney General's Office charged Troyer with one count of false reporting and one count of making a false statement to a civil servant for claiming the carrier, Sedrick Altheimer, threatened to kill him. Troyer has denied any wrongdoing.

Troyer told KNKX he expected to be listed until the matter is resolved, noting that people can come off the list after investigations conclude.

The Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance, which has been outspoken about Troyer’s conduct in relation to the January incident, said the action “is a critical step to holding Sheriff Troyer accountable.”

“Ed Troyer is a threat to public safety, and unfit to carry a badge and a gun," the alliance said in a statement.

Pierce County's independent investigation, commissioned by the County Council and led by former U.S. attorney Brian Moran, noted that Troyer's conduct not only violated department policy, but put Altheimer in danger.

The report said it’s “not hyperbole” that Altheimer could have been “an unintentional or misperceived gesture away from serious harm or worse.”

The Pierce County Council is expected to discuss the findings of Moran's report during a meeting Monday. Oversight of the sheriff is limited, since he is elected.

Beyond adding him to the Brady list, Troyer's conduct could be reviewed by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, which certifies police officers. The commission could review the findings from the attorney general's investigation and the county's independent investigation to consider potential action, including decertification.

It's rare in Washington state to decertify any police officer, let alone the county's top law enforcement official. But recent changes in state law have made it easier.

Kari Plog is a former KNKX reporter who covered the people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.