High court overturns Seattle drug arrest

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Associated Press

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 1:03 PM

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.

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