Hospital bills man for rectal search he was forced to undergo by police
David Eckert had just finished shopping at Walmart in Deming, New Mexico when an officer pulled him over for failing to make a complete stop at a stop sign. According to the local KOB TV station, federal documents claim that police noticed Eckert clenching his buttocks when they asked him to step outside of the car, indicating that he may have been carrying drugs in his anal cavity.
After detaining Eckert and requesting a search warrant from a judge, police took him to a local hospital for doctors to perform a search. The doctor refused, saying the search was unethical. Police then took Eckert to the Gila Regional Medical Center, where doctors agreed to cooperate.
The doctors then performed a wide array of procedures, all without the consent of Eckert, who protested each one. First, doctors took an X-Ray of his abdomen, which revealed no narcotics hidden inside the body. Then, doctors performed two anal exams with their fingers, both of which failed to uncover any drugs.
After the failure of these searches, Eckert underwent three different enemas and was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. He watched as each stool search failed to uncover any narcotics.
Another X-Ray was taken, and, finally, doctors sedated Eckert and performed a colonoscopy. Again, no drugs were found.
“The thought that they could do this to a man in our country is terrifying,” Shannon Kennedy, Eckert's attorney, said to KOB. “Our community should be outraged … This is like something out of a science fiction film, anal probing by government officials and public employees.”
According to Kennedy, not only was the issued search warrant overly broad and lacking in probable cause, but it was also only valid in Luna County, where Deming is located and Eckert was arrested. After the first hospital refused to perform the anal search, police took Eckert to Gila, which is located in a separate county altogether. If that is the case, then doctors performed all eight of the previously mentioned procedures illegally and without the consent of the patient.
To make matters worse, the search warrant expired at 10 p.m. while doctors didn’t even begin prepping Eckert for the colonoscopy until 1 a.m. the next morning, when the warrant had been expired for hours.
The hospital even billed Eckert for the procedures and is threatening to take him to collections if he doesn’t pay.
Deming Police Chief Brandon Gigante refused to comment on the incident due to a pending lawsuit, but said, "We follow the law in every aspect and we follow policies and protocols that we have in place.”
Eckert is suing the city of Deming, Hidalgo County, the police officers behind the incident, the deputy district attorney, and the Gila Regional Medical Center, including Robert Wilcox, M.D and Okay Odocha, M.D.
"If the officers in Hidalgo County and the City of Deming are seeking warrants for anal cavity searches based on how they're standing and the warrant allows doctors at the Gila Hospital of Horrors to go in and do enemas and colonoscopies without consent, then anyone can be seized and that's why the public needs to know about this," Kennedy said.