While 24-year-old Sedrick Altheimer was delivering newspapers at 2 a.m. on January 27th, he started to be followed by an unmarked white SUV. He continued his job, tossing newspapers out the windows of his car onto subscribers’ lawns and driveways.
After the SUV passed Altheimer’s 1995 Geo Prizm and then turned around to follow Altheimer again, he became concerned. At one house, where he had to get out of his car to put the newspaper into a plastic holder as the homeowner requested, he approached the SUV to find out what was going on, according to a Seattle Times account of the incident.
The man in the SUV accused him of being a “porch pirate,” someone who steals packages off people’s porches, an unusual accusation given that the driver of the SUV saw Altheimer throwing newspapers out of the car windows. Altheimer thought the driver looked familiar, but couldn’t place his face.
He asked the man if he was following him because he was Black. The man responded that he’s not a racist because he was married to a Black woman.
Altheimer asked the man if he was a cop, a question the man didn’t answer. When Altheimer said the man should call the cops if he felt there was a problem, the man responded, “Oh, I got four cars on the way.”
Fed up, Altheimer pulled his car around so the two cars were facing one another and they started flashing their high beams at one another. That’s apparently when the driver of the SUV, Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer called 9-1-1, claiming that the man threatened to kill him.
“Hey, it’s Troyer,” his call begins. “I’m at 27th and Deidra in Tacoma, in North End, about two blocks from my house, and I caught someone in my driveway who just threatened to kill me and I’ve blocked him in, he’s here right now.”
“I’m trying to be polite to him, but he says I’m a racist and wants to kill me,” Troyer said, describing the car as “homeless-looking” and “beat up.”
Troyer’s call led to a storm of 42 police units into the neighborhood responding to an “officer needs help” call. Altheimer was detained and questioned, but ultimately released. No charges were filed against either man.
In a subsequent report, Troyer claimed that he heard something suspicious outside his house and saw Altheimer in his driveway. When Troyer went out to confront the man, Troyer claimed Altheimer threatened his life.
Troyer later admitted there was no room in his driveway for another car to pull into it. He then said he saw a car pull in and out of neighborhood driveways, which he thought was suspicious. He never explained how he didn’t notice Altheimer throwing newspapers out his car windows.
Troyer also denies saying that he’s married to a Black woman–his wife is a Pacific Islander–but says he does have a Black grandson who lives with him.
He also claims he didn’t expect to have such an overwhelming response to the sleepy neighborhood, with cars from the sheriff, local police and state police responding to a call of an officer in trouble. “I was wanting to ramp it down” and “I wasn’t about to get him in trouble or make a bigger deal out of it.”
While Troyer does not get a newspaper delivered to his home, some of his neighbors do. So the next two nights after the incident, Altheimer said he jokingly tossed a copy of The News Tribune on the sheriff’s driveway.
“He didn’t subscribe, but I wanted him to. I said, hey, come join my business, so you know I’m a trustworthy man of your neighborhood,” Altheimer said.