On January 2, 2013, a New Mexico man left a local Walmart in his vehicle and was stopped by the police when he allegedly failed to make a full stop at a stop sign when leaving the parking lot. The police claim that the man was standing erect with his legs together after he exited his vehicle, which they believed indicated that the man was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity. The police were able to obtain a search warrant that allowed an anal cavity search.
The federal medical malpractice and violation of civil rights lawsuit subsequently filed by the man alleges that the police brought him to the local hospital emergency room where the physician refused to perform the anal cavity search because he believed the search would be “unethical.” Undeterred, the police transported the man to a hospital emergency room in another New Mexico city, where the physicians agreed to perform the anal cavity search and other procedures.
The emergency room physician first x-rayed the man’s abdomen that failed to find any narcotics. He then examined the man’s anus with his fingers, finding stool but no narcotics. A second anal cavity search by another physician again found stool but no narcotics. Unsatisfied, the physician inserted an enema into the man’s anus and then forced him to defecate in view of the police officers and a nurse – no narcotics were found.
A second enema and second forced defecation in front of the police and nurse turned up no narcotics. The physician performed a third enema, with the same results. Not accepting the results of repeated, degrading efforts to find narcotics in the man’s anal cavity, the man was x-rayed again and again no narcotics were detected.
The physician then sedated the man and performed a forced colonoscopy, finding no narcotics in the man’s anus, rectum, colon, or large intestine.
Not only did the man not consent to the various medical procedures, his federal lawsuit alleges that he protested and objected to the procedures. The lawsuit further alleges that the search warrant lacked probable cause and was overly broad; the search warrant was not valid in the county where the forced medical procedures were performed; and, the colonoscopy was performed after the search warrant had expired.
The man’s lawsuit alleges that he had been subjected to a prior traffic stop on September 6, 2012, due to a cracked windshield, that resulted in a narcotics detection dog being called to the scene and allegedly alerting to possible narcotics in the man’s vehicle. A search of the man’s vehicle pursuant to a subsequently obtained search warrant did not find any narcotics.
In discussing the federal lawsuit that names as defendants various police departments, sheriff officers, police officers, the hospital where the procedures were performed, and the physicians who performed the procedures, the man’s attorney stated, “If the officers in Hidalgo County and the City of Deming are seeking warrants for anal cavity searches based on how they’re standing and the warrant allows doctors at the Gila Hospital of Horrors to go in and do enemas and colonoscopies without consent, then anyone can be seized and that’s why the public needs to know about this.”
David Eckert v. The City of Deming, et al., United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, Case No. 1:13-cv-00727, filed August 7, 2013.
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