A routine traffic stop in January turned into a surreal, nightmarish scenario for a New Mexico man forced to undergo repeated anal probing after police thought they noticed something funny when they pulled him over for failing to fully stop at a stop sign, according a civil rights lawsuit filed in August.
Albuquerque TV station KOB reported on the lawsuit over the bizarre allegations only yesterday. The story it uncovered is macabre, with the only moral seeming to be that if you’re ever pulled over by the police, stay loose.
According to KOB’s account of the allegations, the ordeal began for plaintiff David Eckert of Lordsburg, N.M., back on Jan. 2 of this year, after he’d finished some shopping at Wal-Mart. As he pulled out of the store’s parking lot, City of Deming police noticed that he did a rolling stop at a stop sign, so they immediately pulled him over.
They asked Eckert to get out of his vehicle, and that’s when things started to get weird. They noticed that the Wal-Mart shopper appeared to be clenching his buttocks. According to police, a drug-sniffing dog detected a scent of illegal drugs on Eckert’s car seat.
Putting two and two together brilliantly, officers concluded that Eckert must be hiding drugs in his rectum. They held Eckert while they got a search warrant for his anus.
And they did get that warrant, according to the KOB account of the allegations. But nearby emergency room doctors refused to administer an anal probe, citing ethical considerations. They just didn’t think it was right to penetrate a man’s anus without his consent.
Medical professionals at Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City had no such compunctions. It didn’t even matter to them that the search warrant for Eckert’s anal cavity was good only in Luna County, but the medical center is in nearby Grant County.
The first thing they did was X-ray Eckert’s abdomen. They found no drugs. Next, a doctor stuck fingers into Eckert’s anus. Again, no drugs. So they probed his anus with their fingers again. Still nothing.
So they forced an enema on him then made him defecate in front of doctors and police officers while they watched. Still nothing. Then they did it again. And again. Three enemas, three times Eckert was made to evacuate his bowels in front of officers and doctors.
No drugs turned up. So they X-rayed him again. Nothing.
Then came the pièce de résistance. The doctors sedated him and performed a colonoscopy, searching Eckert’s rectum, colon and large intestines with a camera. They found no drugs.
And here comes the punchline. The Gila Medical Center charged Eckert for all of these procedures — none of which were done with his consent — and is threatening to sic a collection agency on him if he doesn’t pay.
Police refused to comment when KOB’s reporter approached them, as did the medical center. Eckert himself backed out of an interview. According to his attorney, Shannon Kennedy, he’s just too scared.
“He’s absolutely terrified,” Kennedy said. “He’s living in a community where police are able to harass people traveling through this community and people who live here, basically unchecked.”
Eckert is suing the City of Deming, Hidalgo County, Gila Regional Medical Center and several individuals involved in the incident.
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