Brian Moran, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, is expected to lead the independent investigation requested by the Pierce County Council into the conduct of Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer.
Council Chair Derek Young shared the news with members at Council’s April 13 regular meeting, noting after a short negotiation that included changes to the scope of work requested by the county, it appears both parties have an agreement in principle, with signatures to follow.
“I believe the modified language goes further than the original to serve the Council’s goal of having a truly independent investigation, while also providing accountability to the Council and the public we serve,” Young said.
Under the contract Moran will exercise the legislative body’s investigative powers granted under Section 2.25 of the Pierce County Charter. The approved scope of work directs Moran to review the sheriff’s conduct from Jan. 1, 2020 to Jan. 27, 2021 to determine whether there is a pattern of misuse of authority, deviation from standards or a violation of policy or law.
Additional direction includes:
- Determine the facts of what occurred during the incident on January 27, 2021, in which the Sheriff requested assistance from dispatch, including the response to the request, the law enforcement investigation of the incident, and statements made thereafter. To the extent possible, the investigation is to resolve disputed facts and versions, and include investigation of motivations and states of mind of those involved, including potential biases or prejudices.
- Determine whether the Sheriff, during the January 27 incident, misused his authority, deviated from standard or required law enforcement standards (including honesty), violated any Sheriff’s Department policy or regulation, or violated any criminal law.
- The investigator shall consider whether investigating other conduct of the Sheriff could help determine whether the January 27 incident was a misuse of authority, a deviation from standards, or a violation of policy or law or help determine whether there is a pattern of the same. The investigator has discretion to make such investigations, including investigation of actions taken before the Sheriff took office but while he was the Sheriff’s Public Information Officer. Investigation of other conduct shall be limited only to those incidents relevant to determining whether there is a pattern of misuse of authority, deviation from standards, or a violation of policy or law, and shall not extend to any incidents earlier than January 1, 2020, without specific authorization from the Council. The investigator’s report to Council shall include the investigator’s reasons for investigating or not investigating other conduct and report any relevant findings or conclusions related to other conduct.
- If the Investigator determines that there was a misuse of authority, a deviation from standards, or a violation of policy or law, determine what discipline could be recommended if a Deputy Sheriff or other non-elected employee of the Sheriff’s Department had so acted.
- 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.
While acting as the Council’s investigator, Moran may exercise the Council’s powers under the Pierce County Charter, including the power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, and subpoena the production of evidence.
Following the investigation Moran is directed to prepare a report with his determinations to be delivered to Council at a future date.