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Washington Supreme Court: Cops can frisk for weapons, but they can’t ‘squeeze’ for drugs

Post by News Tribune Staff on May 28, 2009 at 8:52 am with No Comments »
May 28, 2009 8:52 am

The Washington Supreme Court just came out with a unanimous ruling this morning that says a police officer overstepped his bounds by squeezing a suspect’s pockets and finding drugs.

Basically, the purpose of a frisk is to find out whether a suspect is armed with some sort of weapon. After the officer found the knife (which the suspect voluntarily told the officer he had in his back pocket) there was no need to search further, the court ruled.

But the Union Gap police officer testified he kept frisking the suspect and felt what he thought was a baggie when he “squeezed” the guy’s front pocket. In the baggie was some meth.

As a result, the high court overturned the conviction which had been upheld by an appellate court, and threw out the drug evidence because it was obtained from an unlawful search.

It was a 2005 case out of Yakima County.

Here is the majority opinion, written by Justice Richard Sanders.

There is no minority opinion. It was 9-0.

Supreme Court
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