OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a man who was arrested on drug charges because the officer who saw the alleged action from a second floor of a building was not the arresting officer.
Under state law, unless a specific statutory exception applies, an officer can only arrest a misdemeanor crime suspect without a warrant if the office was present for the crime.
Gregorio Ortega was arrested in March 2009 in Seattle after an officer on the second floor of a building observed Ortega and another man purportedly appear to make three drug transactions. The officer in the building maintained radio contact with officers in a car nearby, described Ortega's activities and instructed them to arrest him. The officers found crack cocaine and cash on him.
The high court ruling on Thursday was unanimous, however, in a separate concurrence, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen urged the Legislature to consider amending state statutes.