Society

South Dakota Cops Used Forced Catheterization On Boy, 3

| by Michael Allen

South Dakota's Pierre Police Department is reportedly forcing residents, one as young as 3 years old, to have catheters shoved into their bladders.

Kirsten Hunter told the Argus Leader that her 3-year-old son, Aksel, had a catheter forcibly pushed into his penis by nurses at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital.

"They just shoved it right up there, and he screamed so bad," Hunter recalled. "He’s still dealing with a staph infection, and we are still giving him medication."

The boy was reportedly violated after a Department of Social Services employee and police officers showed up at Hunter's home and demanded that the toddler produce a sample of urine in late February.

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Hunter said that she and her boyfriend had failed their urine tests, so authorities wanted to test Hunter's two children for drugs.

According to Hunter, her 5-year-old daughter was able to produce a sample on demand, but the toddler couldn't. Authorities reportedly threatened to take the boy away if he could not urinate for them.

Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota, said: "Quite frankly, it’s cruel and barbaric to forcibly catheterize anyone, let alone a 3-year-old child, and this process raises serious constitutional concerns."

The ACLU of South Dakota wrote a letter to the Department of Social Services on March 31, asking why the boy was forcibly catheterized and called for the department to stop catheterizing children.

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The Pierre Police Department and Department of Social Services did not answer questions from the Argus Leader.

Avera St. Mary’s Hospital spokesman Jay Gravholt wrote in a statement: "Avera has long recommended that care never be forced on anyone. However, the facts of any given circumstance dictates how some might respond to a directive from law enforcement or a judge."

Dirk Sparks told the newspaper that he was pinned down, hooded and handcuffed by police at the same hospital while a nurse shoved a catheter tube into his penis.

"It was degrading," Sparks recalled. "I was angry. I felt like my civil rights were being violated."

Hours before the forced catheterization, police answered a domestic disturbance call at Sparks' residence.

Sparks said the police observed him being "fidgety," and requested a urine sample. Sparks refused, so police got a warrant from a Hughes County judge to get his urine by "medically accepted means."

Sparks tested positive for traces of methamphetamine and marijuana, and was arrested in March 2016.

He ended up pleading no contest to ingestion of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. He was given time that he had already served in jail and a suspended sentence.

Jason Riis was arrested in March 2016 in Pierre on the suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs.

He was arrested after failing a field sobriety test.

"[The police] put me in a holding cell for 15 minutes and kept asking me if I wanted to take a voluntary pee test," Riis recalled. "I told them 'no' because they didn’t have probable cause."

After the police got a warrant and told Riis that he was going to be catheterized, he agreed to a voluntary sample, but he said the cops refused to allow it.

"One cop held my penis, and a doctor shoved a catheter in me," Riis stated. "It hurt for a week. I couldn’t pee."

Court papers said that traces of marijuana, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines were found in Riis' urine.

Riis pleaded guilty to unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance and driving under the influence. He was given credit for jail time, and put on probation.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said agents would only force people to give urine samples in "exceptional" cases like a fatal vehicular homicide that involved drugs.

"There’s no way law enforcement should be doing this without telling a judge what they are going to do," said Barry Friedman, director of the Policing Project and a New York University School of Law. "The Supreme Court has made it clear that bodily invasions are serious. Catheterization is painful and humiliating."

South Dakota's state judiciary committees are not even considering laws to ban forced catheterizations, the Argus Leader reported in July 2016.

Republican state Sen. Arthur Rusch told the newspaper: "I think the current law is adequate. It's up to the discretion of the judge to issue the warrant given sufficient probable cause and I think that's an effective policy."

Republican state Rep. Lance Russell added: "I don’t know that there’s a need for legislation. Under the Fourth Amendment, if they can obtain a warrant from a judge, I think that’s sufficient."

Democratic state Rep. Kris Langer said: "It's something I could look at."

Democratic state Rep. Kevin Killer stated: "I’m sure that as the election gets closer it’s something we’ll hear more about. There’s an individual rights issue that needs to be addressed."

Sources: Argus Leader (2) / Photo credit: Visual Hunt

Should adults and children undergo forced catheterization?
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Yes - 84%