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Supreme Court Uphelds Yakima Police Officer Search

Newstalk KIT

A victory for the Yakima Police Department and one of it’s officers who searched a woman’s purse without a warrant. The Washington Supreme Court upheld the officer’s decision to search a woman’s purse without a warrant.

Lisa Ann Byrd was in the passenger seat of a car with stolen plates in 2009 when the officer arrested her and the car’s driver.  At the time of her arrest, she had a purse on her lap.

Byrd was handcuffed and put in the back of the police cruiser.  Thats’ when the officer returned to the car and searched the purse and found a glass case with methamphetamine.

A Yakima County Superior Court Judge ruled that the meth could not be used at trial because the officer didn’t have a warrant.  A state appeals court upheld the lower court ruling.

The Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote reversed the lower courts decision.  Supreme Court Justice Debra Stephens wrote for the majority.  She says that officers are always allowed to search someone’s “person” at the time of arrest and because the purse was on Byrd’s lap, it should be considered part of her person.

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