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Routine Traffic Stop Turns Into Nightmare 14-hour Anal Cavity Search for Drugs

Lawsuit filed against police claims invasive search that violated civil rights.

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

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