The Associated Press
SEATTLE — Washington’s Supreme Court says a Centralia police officer was justified when he frisked a man during a traffic stop but he didn’t have the right to open a small container found on the suspect.
In the majority opinion issued Thursday, the high court says the container search without a warrant violated Tanner Russell’s “constitutional right to be free from police intrusion.”
The officer found a syringe filled with methamphetamine in the container, and prosecutors charged Russell with a drug possession. Russell argued that the search was illegal.
The officer stopped Russell, who was riding a bike, for minor traffic violations in 2011. The officer said he feared for his safety because he had stopped Russell the week before and Russell had lied then about having a gun on him.
The ruling said the officer didn’t have a reasonable belief that the container held a gun.