New Mexico Man Sues Over Forced Colonoscopy During Drug Search

By Carrie Jung, KUNM
November 08, 2013

A man in southern New Mexico has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that he was forced to undergo multiple body cavity searches because police thought he was hiding drugs.

The incident in question occurred last January when David Eckert was stopped for a traffic violation.

According to the lawsuit, officers suspected Eckert might be hiding drugs in his anal cavity based on the way he was standing and the reaction of a drug sniffing dog. He was then taken to a nearby hospital and subjected to multiple x- rays, 3 enemas and a colonoscopy.

No drugs were found, and Eckert is now being billed for the procedures.

Shannon Kennedy, Eckert’s attorney, said the officers violated his constitutional right that prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. She said Eckert is apparently not the only case of this kind in this part of the state.

"So they’re basically putting people in this catch 22 where they’re seizing them but not charging them and then going on a fishing expedition through their bodies to find evidence of a crime," Kennedy said.

The ACLU’s Laura Schauer Ives added that while the law is not completely clear on how far officials can go when conducting a search for drugs, previous Supreme Court cases have found invasive actions to be unconstitutional.

"No one should have to fear that they’ll be penetrated and physically violated because an officer suspects you might be carrying drugs," Schauer said.

Hidalgo County did not immediately return requests for comment.