Take a moment to think of the biggest law-enforcement overreach that you can dream up, that doesn’t involve killing anybody. Chances are whatever you just thought of isn’t half as egregious as what actually happened to a random guy in New Mexico (summary at the bottom). Here’s what happened:
David Eckert had finished up a shopping trip at Walmart in Deming, New Mexico. He got into his car and was driving out of the parking lot, when he did something that every driver ever has done: he didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign. A cop pulled him over for the infraction, and eventually asked Eckert to step out of the vehicle.
This is already a little strange, no? One, have you ever even heard of someone getting pulled over for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, and two, why would that warrant Eckert getting out of his car?
That’s when the officer noticed that Eckert was clenching his buttocks. This, the officer decided, was a sure sign (“probable cause” in law terms) that Eckert was smuggling narcotics by storing them in his anal cavity. So he took Eckert to the hospital.
Yeah, this is going where you think it’s going, which is to say, warning: this gets graphic.
After a doctor in a Deming emergency room deemed the procedure “unethical” (making him or her the only sane person in this story, outside of Eckert), the police took Eckert to Gila Regional Medical Center (crossing county lines, meaning their probable cause warrant was no longer valid) where doctors agreed to search Eckert’s body for drugs.
The good folks at 4 On Your Side of New Mexico’s KOB.com found this list of procedures that Eckert was subjected to against his will. Repeat: he did not consent to any of this.
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 can’t get any worse, right? Well here’s the kicker: the hospital is billing Eckert for being anally probed multiple times against his will, and they have threatened to hire a collector if he doesn’t pay.
So, in summary: a man was pulled over for the most benign, common traffic violation out there, and based on no viable evidence, was X-rayed twice, anally probed twice, given an enema and made to poop in front of doctors three times, then made to have surgery, all without his consent, and he is expected to PAY for all of that.
Eckert is suing the City of Deming, three police officers, three deputies, the deputy district attorney, the regional medical center and two doctors. Something tells me he’s going to win.