A New Mexico man is pulled over on a traffic violation, taken in on alleged drug possession
Police got a warrant for an "anal cavity" search; lawsuit claims it was too general and broad
He had "digital penetrations, ... 3 enemas" and a colonoscopy; no drugs were found, no charges
A New Mexico man is suing police for allegedly “subjecting him to multiple digital penetrations and three enemas,” among other “shockingly invasive medical procedures” – all on an invalid warrant, all without finding any drugs – his lawyers claim.
The lawsuit states that David Eckert, 54, spent more than 12 hours in custody last January at a police station and local hospital after being pulled over for a traffic violation. Yet he was never charged, nor did authorities find illicit substances on him.
“Defendants acted completely outside the bounds of human decency by orchestrating wholly superfluous physical body cavity searches performed by an unethical medical professional,” states the lawsuit, which was filed earlier this year but has garnered more public attention in recent days.
Police in Deming, New Mexico, did not return multiple messages left by CNN on Wednesday seeking their side of the story. The city attorney’s office also did not offer an immediate comment after being contacted Wednesday.
According to a police affidavit accompanying the lawsuit, a detective asked a different officer to pull over Eckert’s 1998 brown Dodge pickup truck for not properly stopping at a stop sign.
After Eckert was pulled over, a Deming police officer said that he saw Eckert “was avoiding eye contact with me,” his “left hand began to shake,” and he stood “erect (with) his legs together,” the affidavit stated.
Eckert was told he could go home after a third officer issued him a traffic citation. But before he did, Eckert voluntarily consented to a search of him and his vehicle, the affidavit states. A K-9 dog subsequently hit on a spot in the Dodge’s driver’s seat, though no drugs were found.
“Hildalgo County K-9 officer did inform me that he had dealt with Mr. Eckert on a previous case and stated that Mr. Eckert was known to insert drugs into his anal cavity and had been caught in Hidalgo County with drugs in his anal cavity,” the affidavit said.
While CNN could not immediately corroborate that claim, a search of Eckert’s criminal history found he’s been arrested several times on drug possession charges, though many of those charges were dismissed.
Eckert was then put in “investigative detention” and transported around 2 p.m. to the Deming Police Department.
Sometime after that, a judge signed off a search warrant “to include but not limited to his anal cavity.”
The next stop was Gila Regional Medical Center, where the lawsuit states “no drugs were found” in “an x-ray and two digital searches of his rectum by two different doctors.” One doctor at this time found nothing unusual in his stool.
Three enemas were conducted on Eckert after 10:20 p.m. A chest X-ray followed, succeeded by a colonoscopy around 1:25 a.m.
After all this, “no drugs were found in or on Plaintiff’s person,” according to the lawsuit.
Because he “merely looked nervous during a traffic stop,” the lawsuit claims that authorities ended up violating Eckert’s constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures on a number of grounds.
One was that “the language in the warrant was overly broad and, therefore, invalid,” said the plaintiff, asserting that the chest X-ray and colonoscopy, for instance, weren’t related or confined to the “anal cavity.”
Moreover, many of the tests took place outside the 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. timeframe for which any such search warrant (unless otherwise authorized) is legally valid under New Mexico law, according to the lawsuit.
“While the war on drugs has resulted in aggressive government tactics,” the suit added, “the Supreme Court has never authorized the seizing of an alleged drug user for forced medical procedures to purge their bodies of drugs.”
CNN’s Casey Wian, Michael Cary and Stefan Simons contributed to this report.