A New Mexico man has been awarded $1.6 million after he endured a 14-hour probe of his anal cavity and intestines by police and doctors following what began as a routine traffic stop.
David Eckert said he was even forced to defecate in front of officers. Though police suspected he was hiding drugs, none were ever found.
“I feel that I got some justice as I think the settlement shows they were wrong to do what they did to me,” David Eckert told KOB-TV. “I truly hope that no one will be treated like this ever again. I felt very helpless and alone on that night. My family and I hope that people understand that I don’t want my face linked with jokes related to anal probing. For this reason, I asked my attorneys to issue this statement in the hopes that the media will respect my privacy.”
As WND reported, Eckert’s ordeal began innocently enough with a shopping trip to Walmart 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.
The medical center even billed Eckert for all the medical procedures and threatened to pursue him if he didn’t pay.
Eckert filed a lawsuit in November. Within a month, the city and county were ready to settle.
He is also suing a deputy district attorney who authorized the invasive search warrant, the doctors who performed the exams and the Gila Regional Medical Center.