According to recently discovered court documents, a Deming, NM man was subjected to a nightmarish 14-hour anal cavity search for drugs after allegedly running a stop sign. No drugs were found and now David Eckert is suing police officers and the doctors who conducted the horrendous search, which occurred on January 2, 2013.
After searches of his car and his person revealed no drugs, officers held Eckert until a judge issued a warrant because officers alleged Eckert appeared to be “clenching his buttocks.” Officers then took Eckert to Gila Regional Medical Center in a neighboring county after doctors at Mimbres Memorial Hospital in Deming refused to conduct the search on ethical grounds, according to the court documents.
After multiple anal probes, enemas, x-rays and colonoscopies, no drugs were found and Eckert was released with no charges. Eckert later received a bill for his torture from the hospital, which threatened to turn him over to a collections agency if he failed to pay.
“What happened to David Eckert was highly unusual, even in the context of the aggressive policing so often associated with the drug war,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “But this case is just one of the many tens or even hundreds of thousands of police interventions, both legal and illegal, each year in which citizens have their homes, cars and bodies searched, sometimes violently, all in the name of a futile and unwarranted criminalization of drug control in America.”
Eckert is suing for compensatory and punitive damages for his horrific ordeal.
Anthony Papa spent 15 years in prison for a non-violent drug offense. He knows the trauma Eckert felt all too well.
“I went through a body cavity search and it was, without a doubt, the most dehumanizing experience I ever had,” said Papa, a media relations manager with the Drug Policy Alliance. “It totally traumatized me and after 20 years I still have nightmares about it.”
CONTACT: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Anthony Papa 646-420-7290
Not everyone can pay for the news. But if you can, we need your support.
Truthout is widely read among people with lower incomes and among young people who are mired in debt. Our site is read at public libraries, among people without internet access of their own. People print out our articles and send them to family members in prison — we receive letters from behind bars regularly thanking us for our coverage. Our stories are emailed and shared around communities, sparking grassroots mobilization.
We’re committed to keeping all Truthout articles free and available to the public. But in order to do that, we need those who can afford to contribute to our work to do so.
We’ll never require you to give, but we can ask you from the bottom of our hearts: Will you donate what you can, so we can continue providing journalism in the service of justice and truth?