Pierce County Council moving forward with independent investigation of Sheriff Troyer

On Tuesday, the Pierce County Council unanimously approved a motion to prepare a contract for an independent investigation of conduct by Sheriff Ed Troyer.

The vote stemmed from a Jan. 27 call to 911 that Troyer had made regarding a Black newspaper delivery driver near his home, as first reported by the Seattle Times. The 911 call prompted a large police presence.

Troyer told dispatch that the man was suspicious and that he had threatened his life. When later questioned by a Tacoma police officer, the sheriff said he had never been threatened. 

Tuesday's vote gave the green light for Council staff to begin preparing a contract for the investigative services with Seattle law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Brian Moran, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, is a partner at the firm and is the person Council plans to hire to conduct the investigation. 

Under a draft proposed scope of work, the Council wants the investigation to look into whether or not any potential biases or prejudices took place that night and whether or not Troyer misused his authority as sheriff. The investigation will also look into whether or not Troyer violated department policy or regulation, or violated any criminal law. 

The Council also asked the investigator to look into public comments made by Troyer in November regarding the death of Manny Ellis, a Black man who died in Tacoma police custody.

"If the investigator determines that there was a misuse of authority, a deviation from standards, or a violation of policy or law, the investigator may provide any appropriate recommendations for oversight or other procedures that could prevent or discourage similar misconduct in the future by any person serving as sheriff," the Council said in its announcement of the vote.

RELATED:  Pierce County sheriff elicits massive police response after claiming newspaper delivery man threatened him

The Council approved the use of an independent investigator at the end of March. With Council approval, the next step in the process is to draft a contract and begin negotiations with Moran’s firm.

On March 30, Troyer issued the following statement about the investigation:

"I welcome a fair, independent, and unbiased investigation into the events in November of 2020, TPD case 20-316-01845 and January of 2021, TPD case 21-027-00104 where I contacted dispatch about safety concerns in the City of Tacoma.  I also request that the County Council expands the scope of their inquiry to include my comments to the media regarding the investigation into the death of Manny Ellis, TPD case 20-063-02551.  I believe that the expanded scope and the findings of this investigation will increase transparency and create opportunities for building trust with the community that I have served for over 35 years." 

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