The state Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a Bellevue high-school student, saying the search of his backpack was illegal.

Share story

The state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a student backpack search in 2009 at a Bellevue high school was illegal because the officer who conducted the search and found a weapon was acting as a police officer at the time.

In a 6-3 vote, the court said the search did not qualify for a school-search exemption and the weapon should not have been allowed as evidence in the young man’s trial.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Susan Owens, said the Bellevue officer was paid by the school district to be a school resource officer.

But Owens writes that the officer, Michael Fry, was acting as a police officer at the time of the search. He’d already arrested the student, Jamar Meneese, for possessing marijuana when he became suspicious that the backpack contained “additional contraband.” It contained an air pistol.

The majority ruled that because the backpack search was done by a police officer without a warrant, the air pistol should not have been allowed as evidence in Meneese’s trial.