Friday, January 17, 2014
Yesterday, The Los Angeles Times had this eye-opening story on the settlement of a civil rights suit stemming from body cavity searches performed on a New Mexican man the police suspected of drug possession. The police were immodestly diligent in their pursuit of the alleged drugs, but their efforts yielded nothing. From the article, the plaintiff appears to have raised several intriguing CrimPro issues--e.g. whether the hospital at which the cavity search is performed must be within the jurisdiction in which the search warrant had been issued--but ones to which I cannot respond without beginning, "I presume..." So, here's a portion of The Times's article from which the title of this post comes:
Police took [David] Eckert [Plaintiff] to a hospital. His federal civil rights lawsuit — which reached a partial conclusion this week — detailed what happened next.
First Eckert got an X-ray, which was inconclusive for drugs, according to his lawsuit. Then a doctor examined Eckert's anus with his finger, as did a second doctor. Neither found drugs.
Then the doctors gave a protesting Eckert an enema, he alleged, forcing him to have a bowel movement in front of medical staff. There were no drugs in his stool.
Doctors purportedly gave him two more enemas and got the same result.
They took another X-ray, which was negative this time. Then came the colonoscopy, which involves inserting a camera into the anus. It found nothing.
No drugs were found in Eckert's body.
Weeks later, he received a hospital bill for $4,539.
He sued the city of Deming, along with Hidalgo County and the hospital, Gila Regional Medical Center in Grant County.
In his complaint, Eckert said he was denied the opportunity to call his attorney; that the search warrant had expired by the time the doctors were examining him; that the procedures were carried out in a different county where the warrant wasn't valid; and that police mocked him during the procedures and intentionally pulled back his privacy curtain while he was exposed.
City and county officials denied some of the allegations in preliminary court filings. But last month, after a six-hour negotiating session, they settled. Eckert will get $1.6 million in damages.