What began as a simple traffic stop became a 12-hour long nightmare for a New Mexico man. David Eckert, 54, was pulled over leaving a Wal-Mart parking lot for allegedly failing to come to a complete stop. Officers suspected that Eckert might be concealing illegal drugs based on the way he was standing and due to the fact that a police dog gave a positive alert near the driver’s seat of Eckert’s vehicle. Officers decided to obtain a search warrant “to include but not limited to (Eckert’s) anal cavity.”
Eckert was transported by police to a local emergency room in order to execute the search warrant. On arrival, the attending physician refused to conduct an anal cavity search as he deemed it unethical. Officers then decided to take Eckert to Gila Medical Center where a physician would agree to the search. This is despite the fact that Gila Medical Center was outside the county in which the warrant for the search was issued. According to medical records the following procedures were then performed:
- Eckert’s abdominal area was X-rayed. No narcotics were found.
- Doctors performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers. No narcotics were found.
- Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus. No narcotics were found.
- Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema and Eckert was forced to defecate. Doctors searched his stool and no narcotics were discovered.
- Doctors inserted a second enema and no narcotics were discovered.
- Doctors inserted a third enema and no narcotics were discovered.
- Doctors x-rayed Eckert again and narcotics were found
- Doctors then sedated Eckert and performed a colonoscopy. No narcotics were found.
The entire ordeal lasted roughly 12 hours until officers escorted Eckert home around 3 a.m. Ultimately, no drugs were ever recovered from Eckert’s person. Eckert was later billed for the “services” performed by the Gila Medical Center.
Eckert retained counsel and has filed a federal lawsuit alleging both a depravation of his civil rights and personal injury. His civil rights claims include 10 counts of unreasonable search and seizure and violation of due process. The personal injury claims include negligence, battery and false imprisonment. The suit further makes claims of lack of informed consent and violation of the Unfair Practices Act against Gila Medical Center. The suit names thirteen total defendants including the City of Deming, three officers, three sheriffs, the District Attorney who approved the warrant, the Gila Medical Center and two physicians. Attorneys for Eckert have requested actual and compensatory damages, punitive damages, treble damages, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, costs and pre and post-judgment interest.
“This suit is about stopping officers and doctors from subjecting people in their custody and control to unlawful sadistic medical procedures that violate the most intimate parts of the human body,” Eckert’s attorney Shannon Kennedy said.
Chris Ramirez, a reporter for local report for KOB-TV, was able to track down Deming Police Chief Brandon Gigante. When asked what reassurances he could give that other people in Deming will not be violated or abused by police officers, Gigante replied, “We follow the law in every aspect and we follow policies and protocols that we have in place.” ‘Do you think those officers in this particular case did that?” Ramirez asked. Gigante refused to answer this question and referred Ramirez to his attorney.