[The incident] began January 2, 2013 after David Eckert finished shopping at the Wal-Mart in Deming. According to a federal lawsuit, Eckert didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign coming out of the parking lot and was immediately stopped by law enforcement.
Eckert’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle, he appeared to be clenching his buttocks. Law enforcement thought that was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity. While officers detained Eckert, they secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed for an anal cavity search.
Here is what happened to David Eckert after he was taken to a hospital by police to search him for drugs:
1. Eckert’s abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.
2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.
8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.
This is outrageous. No decent human being should tolerate this sort of behavior. If the allegations in the complaint are true, then every officer involved with this search should be fired and charged with assault.
There is no possible justification for taking a search this far. This is quite possibly one of the most invasive Searches and Seizures I’ve ever seen. It is unprofessional, disgusting, and unconstitutional. Not to mention based on the flimsiest probable cause I’ve ever seen ginned up by law enforcement. Three enemas guys? Really?
Lest there be any question about the ugliness of this particular search & seizure, the first hospital the police took Eckert to refused to perform the search because they felt it was unethical. So they took him to a second hospital which was located in another county. Unfortunately, that means it was outside the scope of the warrant, and making these searches illegal.
One of two things happened here: either the officers involved realized they made a mistake after the initial cavity search, got scared, and started trying to run as many tests as possible to find something—anything—that they could arrest this guy for. Alternatively, they were so convinced of their own authority (and of Eckert’s deviance) that they couldn’t admit to themselves that he was clean. That he was an ordinary, innocent person just like you and me.
But this is the Modus Operandi of drug enforcement. How many times have you failed to obey a traffic law? How many stop signs have you failed to come to a complete stop for? How many times have you sped up for a yellow light that turned red a second before you made it through the intersection? How many times have you turned without using your signal? Or switched lanes over a solid line because you didn’t want to miss an exit? Or veered onto the shoulder while making a turn so you could make the turn more smoothly?
This could have happened to anyone. David Eckert was not a drug dealer, or a gang member, or whatever other degenerate label you want to throw at him. He was a normal person, doing something that millions of people do every day: shopping and lazily obeying traffic laws. For his “sins,” he endured endless humiliation, embarrassment, emotional, mental, and physical trauma.
This is not the first time that police have engaged in shocking behavior to find evidence of drug possession. Imagine a world in which the drugs that these police were allegedly searching for were completely legal. Whatever weak justifications the police had for hungrily probing Eckert’s anal cavity suddenly fall by the wayside The incentives for making these drug arrests disappear. The quotas disappear. And police become more concerned about violent crime than probing our butts for evidence of illegal drug activity.
In a world where we continue to treat drug use as a criminal offense rather than a public health issue, this will continue to occur. Everybody is at risk of having their car stopped, and enduring David Eckert’s nightmare. Imagine having to explain to your spouse and kids why you were late coming home that evening. What would you even say? You can’t even tell young children about half the stuff that was done to Eckert in the name of finding illegal drugs.
And it could have happened to any one of us.