A man who says he was pulled over by police in southern New Mexico for failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign was hauled to a hospital and forced to undergo anal probes and forced defecation in a police search for drugs, according to reporting by KOB 4.
David Eckert says he was exiting a Wal-Mart parking lot when he was stopped by Deming police for the alleged violation. They then determined that he was clenching his buttocks, and used that as a basis for probable cause that he was hiding drugs. While detaining Eckert, police obtained a warrant from a judge for an anal cavity search. Eckert says in a lawsuit that he was first taken to the hospital in Deming, but doctors said the search would be unethical and refused to perform it. Police then took Eckert to Gila Regional Medical Center, where they proceeded to perform a number of procedures without Eckert’s consent.
Starting with an x-ray of Eckert’s cavity, and proceeding to several anal probes, an enema, and forced defecation, the doctors found no drugs with one procedure after another, according to medical records obtained by KOB 4. Nonetheless, they continued with the search over Eckert’s objections. In the final procedure, doctors sedated him and performed a colonoscopy.
The invasive search is remarkably similar to another that was recently invalidated by a federal appeals court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in its August decision that the involuntary anal probe requested by police who stopped a man for expired tags was “one of the greatest dignitary intrusions that could flow from a medical procedure,” “degrading,” and a clear Fourth Amendment violation. In that case, however, it appears that officers did not first obtain a search warrant.
In his lawsuit, Eckert challenges the issuance of a search warrant, and also argues that the search violated its scope. The warrant, he argues, was only valid in Luna County and police took him to a hospital elsewhere, and the warrant expired at 10 p.m., while the colonoscopy was initiated at 1 a.m.
Dening Police Chief told KOB 4 only, “We follow the law in every aspect and we follow policies and protocols that we have in place.” He referred reporters to his attorneys, who declined to comment.
In another recent incident of bodily cavity searches, Texas police searched three women’s vaginas for marijuana in what also started as a traffic stop.