Suit against sheriff
Sedrick Altheimer, a Black newspaper carrier, was confronted by Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer Jan. 27, 2021, and has filed a tort claim in Pierce County for $5 million in damages.
The claim was filed June 16 by attorneys representing Altheimer. The documents state that the encounter with Troyer caused severe emotional distress and violated Altheimer’s constitutional rights.
In the early morning of Jan. 27, Altheimer was delivering newspapers on his route in a predominantly white, affluent Tacoma neighborhood when he noticed an unmarked personal SUV trailing him. He confronted the driver, Troyer, who did not identify himself as law enforcement.
Troyer called emergency dispatch and said four times that Altheimer was threatening to kill him, which Troyer later recanted. More than 40 police cars rushed to the scene, where Altheimer was removed from his car and frisked for weapons.
According to the case filing, witnesses can attest to the emotional distress experienced by Altheimer, “whose only crime was ‘being a black man in a white neighborhood,’” due to the “racial profiling, false arrest, and unnecessary use of excessive force.”
Troyer has denied race was a factor in him following and calling 911 about Altheimer. Troyer has also refused to step down from his elected role as sheriff due to the incident.
According to a New York University study, Black drivers are 20% more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. The study analyzed nearly 100 million traffic stops across the U.S. from 2011 to 2017 and also found that Black drivers are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than non-Black drivers to be searched once stopped.
Despite pleas from renters and housing advocates, Washington’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium is set to expire June 30.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported that, as of this month, over 221,627 Washington households are behind on rent or mortgage and unlikely to be able to make payment for next month’s rent. The survey also showed that 90,223 Washingtonians are likely to be evicted in the next two months.
Mayor Jenny Durkan announced June 18 she is extending Seattle’s eviction moratorium through Sept. 30. Gov. Jay Inslee has so far not extended the statewide moratorium past June 30.
Housing advocates are also pleading for cancellation of past-due rent. The present moratoriums prohibit late fees on unpaid rent and other charges and require landlords to offer payment plans for debt accrued after Feb. 29, 2020.
Washington legislators have passed renter protections — such as providing lawyers for low-income tenants — to mitigate what advocates call “the eviction cliff.” Yet the Office of Civil Legal Aid director said in April that it would be impossible to have all the lawyers needed for tenants by July 1.
Samira George covers real people living real lives in the Puget Sound. Follow her on Twitter @samirakgeorge.
Read more of the June 23-29, 2021 issue.