A New Mexico man has filed a Federal lawsuit against the City of Deming, Hidalgo County, the Gila Regional Medical Center, a slew of police officers and others attached to a January encounter with municipal police that subjected him to several anal probes and a colonoscopy in an attempt to find narcotics — narcotics that weren’t there — because the cops thought he had clinched his rear suspiciously when they saw him get out of a car near a Wal-Mart.
The suit alleges David Eckert, the plaintiff, was stopped by Deming police the day after New Year’s because he allegedly failed to stop completely at a stop sign as he was leaving the Wal-Mart parking lot. The cops allegedly questioned Eckert about the way he had tightened his buttocks as he exited his vehicle, then went ahead and made the decision to begin a series of searches from the probable caused they had developed, literally, by the seat of Eckert’s pants.
After trotting out a police dog, which dutifully “hit” on Eckert’s car seat, police detained Eckert and obtained a cavity search warrant issued by a local judge so that they could begin looking for the drugs they believed Eckert must have been hiding in his anus.
The Deming police took Eckert to a local emergency room, where the doctor on duty refused to do the cavity search on ethical grounds. So they hauled Eckert over to the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City.
Here’s how Albuquerque’s KOB News summarized what happened next:
While there, Eckert was subjected to repeated and humiliating forced medical procedures. A review of Eckert’s medical records, which he released to KOB, and details in the lawsuit show the following happened:
1. Eckert’s abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.
2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.
8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.
Throughout this ordeal, Eckert protested and never gave doctors at the Gila Regional Medical Center consent to perform any of these medical procedures.
When you’re done hyperventilating, consider this: The search warrant didn’t permit the police to perform any kind of search whatsoever in Grant County, where Gila Medical is located. The warrant was for Luna County, where the Wal-Mart incident began. Aside from the merit-based illegality of developing probable cause from a gluteal muscle contraction and forcing a man into unnecessary, repeated, invasive medical procedures, everything the police did in Grant County was illegal and inadmissible. And KOB reports that the hospital searches took place three hours after the Luna County warrant had expired.
The entire ordeal took 14 hours.
“David Eckert is suing The City of Deming and Deming Police Officers Bobby Orosco, Robert Chavez and Officer Hernandez,” reports KOB, as well as Hidalgo County Hidalgo County Deputies David Arredondo, Robert Rodriguez and Patrick Green; and Deputy District Attorney Daniel Dougherty and the Gila Regional Medical Center, including two physicians: Robert Wilcox, M.D., and Okay Odocha, M.D.
Since the filing of the lawsuit and the revelation of the gory details, Eckert’s story is all over the Internet. That has already elicited another police abuse story from a second alleged victim, Timothy Young, who endured a similar search at Gila Medical — this time after he had been stopped by State police for not using a turn signal.
“Leo,” the very same sniff dog the cops used in the Eckert case, issued an alleged false “hit” in Young’s incident as well. As KOB’s investigation revealed, the dog’s certification as a drug sniffer — which is supposed to be renewed annually after ongoing retraining — expired in April of 2011.