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Dispatcher, Tacoma police officer testify at Sheriff Troyer's trial

Troyer faces two misdemeanor charges after he allegedly claimed on an officer line to 911 dispatch that a Black newspaper carrier threatened to kill him.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Witness testimony continued Monday in the criminal trial of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.

Troyer faces two misdemeanor charges after he allegedly claimed on an officer line to 911 dispatch that a Black newspaper carrier threatened to kill him in January 2021.

SouthSound 911 Dispatcher Leah Heiberg, Darren Steiner, who owns the newspaper distribution company that contracts newspaper carrier Sedrick Altheimer, and Tacoma Police Officer Zachary Hobbs, who spoke with Troyer at the scene, testified Monday morning.

Heiberg was responsible for dispatching Tacoma police officers to the officer needs help call.

During her testimony, Heiberg said she was initially told by the dispatcher speaking to Troyer that someone was trying to kill the sheriff, so she issued an alert to all responding officers to respond to Troyer's call. Forty-three units initially responded, Heiberg said.

Heiberg testified that by the time she learned that Troyer only requested one or two units to respond, the situation had moved beyond being able to adjust for that.

However, during cross-examination, Troyer's lawyer, Anne Bremner, highlighted that Heiberg's superiors were critical of how she handled the call.

Bremner read from Heiberg's coaching review of the incident, which states, "We reviewed how her choice of words had caused the confusion and why the sergeant was trying to get her to clarify the situation. We talked about our core values and the respect and service and the importance of displaying those traits at all times."

During Hobbs’ testimony, he said he went up to Troyer at the scene and asked Troyer what happened. Troyer told Hobbs that while he was inside his home, he saw someone outside with a flashlight and a garage opener and thought the person was prowling houses. Troyer said he went outside and followed the person, who eventually got outside his car and confronted the sheriff, Hobbs testified.

Hobbs said he didn’t ask Troyer about any threats.

On Jan. 27, 2021, Troyer called 911 on a line used by law enforcement to gather routine information and requests and said that he “caught” Altheimer in his driveway and “he just threatened to kill me,” according to probable cause documents. 

He retracted those statements when police arrived. 

Troyer faces one charge of false reporting and one charge of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant. Troyer pleaded not guilty to the charges in October 2021.

Opening statements in the trial were made Nov. 30.

The first witnesses took the stand Dec. 1.

Follow live coverage on king5.com, the KING 5 mobile app, KING 5+ apps on Roku and Amazon Fire and the KING 5 YouTube channel.

Watch: Full coverage of Ed Troyer's trial

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