What began as a routine traffic stop turned into a 14-hour probe of a New Mexico man’s anal cavity and intestines by police and doctors.
David Eckert’s ordeal began innocently enough with a shopping trip to Wal-Mart in Deming, N.M. on Jan. 2, 2013.
According to police, Eckert rolled through a stop sign while driving out of the store’s parking lot. He was promptly pulled over and asked to step out of his vehicle.
What happened next is documented in police reports, medical reports and a federal lawsuit.
“They say when he stepped out of his car, he was standing in a manner that looked as if he was clenching his buttocks,” Shannon Kennedy, Eckert’s attorney, told KOB-TV.
Eckert’s butt-clenching, combined with the reaction of a drug-sniffing dog, were apparently enough for police to conclude Eckert might be trying to hide something illegal. So, they obtained a warrant to do an anal-cavity search.
For the next 14 hours, Eckert was subjected to X-rays, cavity searches, several enemas and a colonoscopy at the hands of police and hospital employees.
“It is absolutely unimaginable that this could happen in America,” Kennedy told the TV station.
The first hospital declared the request “unethical” and refused to perform any procedures.
However, Gila Regional Medical Center had no such concern, and promptly made Eckert undergo several invasive procedures despite his protestations.
Eckert underwent an abdominal X-ray, which showed no drugs.
He then had two anal exams where doctors used their fingers. Once again, no drugs were found.
Three enemas failed to produce any drug evidence.
A second X-ray found nothing, so Eckert was prepped for surgery and forced to undergo a colonoscopy.
“This is like something out of a science-fiction film. Anal probing by government officials and public employees?” exclaimed Kennedy, a civil-rights attorney.
According to Kennedy, the warrant for the anal-cavity search was valid only for Luna County, where Eckert was arrested, but not for Grant County, where the Gila Regional Medical Center is located. The warrant had also expired by the time the colonoscopy was performed.
“The thought that they could do this to a man in our country is terrifying. Our community ought to be outraged.
“The public has a right to know about this so they can be aware when traveling through that part of our state to be careful and to be on guard,” added Kennedy.
Deming Police Chief Brandon Gigante refused to comment on the federal lawsuit but told the TV station residents of the town have no reason to fear unwarranted intrusions by police officers.
“We follow the law in every aspect and we follow policies and protocols that we have in place,” said Gigante.
Eckert’s attorney says her client is now “terrified” after suffering so much pain and humiliation.
And she reveals he’s still being victimized.
The medical center billed Eckert for all the medical procedures and has threatened to pursue him if he doesn’t pay.