New Mexico Town and County Settle Notorious Cavity Search Case For $1.8 Million

UnknownDeming_NM_sealWe previously discussed the horrific case out of New Mexico involving David Eckert. You may recall that Eckert filed a federal case against  the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, police officers with the City of Deming and medical professionals at the Gila Regional Medical Center. Eckert was stopped on a minor traffic violation and accused by an officer of holding his buttocks.  What followed was a nightmare where officers and doctors subjected Eckert to outrageous abuse as they searched for drugs or contraband in his body. Before the police released him after finding no drugs, he would endure five manual penetrations; three forced defecations before witnesses; and an intrusive surgery under sedation. All of this was done without consent and without any basis other than an officer saying he looked like he was clenching his buttocks. Now he has reached a settlement with the city of Demin and the Hidalgo County for $1.6 million. He is still proceeding against the doctors and hospital.

On January 2, 2013, Eckert had finished shopping at Walmart when he did not stop at a stop sign after leaving the parking lot. I recently wrote about police have used such pretext stops for searches after the Supreme Court refused to consider the motivations of police in such encounters. In this case, Eckert was told to step out of his vehicle for the minor failure to stop. An officer said that he thought Eckert appeared to be clenching his buttocks. They then brought in a dog named Leo, a drug-sniffing dog whose certification allegedly expired in April 2011.

This “evidence” was used as the basis for probable cause that he had drug in his anal cavity and he was taken to a hospital in Deming for an anal exam. The doctor however refused on ethical grounds.

That did not stop the police however. They went to Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City where doctors appear to have few ethical qualms. They reportedly x-rayed him but found no evidence of drugs. Rather than admit mistake, the doctors were then told to go forward and they explored Exkert’s anus using their fingers. No drugs were found. However, rather than admit their error, they went forward with a second penetration of the anus. No drugs were found. Rather than admit error, they then ordered a third penetration with an enema. He was then forced to defecate in front of witnesses. No drugs were found. They then penetrated his anus with a second enema. He was again forced to defecate in front of witnesses and his stool again inspected. No drugs were found. He was then penetrated a fifth time with a third enema and he was again forced to defecate in front of witnesses. No drugs were found. No willing to admit mistake, he was then sedated and doctors performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into his anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No drugs were found.

What is most interesting about the stories on the settlement is that there is no mention of officers being criminally charge for the abuse or even fired. They committed unspeakable abuse of this man and now have cost the city and county $1.6 million.

New Mexico Police Chief Brandon Gigante says his officers did everything “by the book” and that there was no need for the slightest discipline. That would suggest that the book needs to go as does Gigante . . . or Deming can continue to pay millions for acts of utter depravity.

43 thoughts on “New Mexico Town and County Settle Notorious Cavity Search Case For $1.8 Million”

  1. My brother, who is a recently retired police officer (from Florida), and who feels that the police can do no wrong, said after I told him about this that the city and those officers would be writing checks to the victim and that the officers and doctors involved should be in jail. As soon as I told him the warrant was for Luna county and the exam done in Grant, he was done- he said that was enough to end it right there. He looked into it and told me that, with the dog’s certification being expired (for which he felt there was no excuse), as far as he was concerned the search was invalid. My family owns property just outside of Deming, and we thought of it as a nice town. We don’t know the police department but we do know the sheriff and several deputies. I just don’t see the sheriff putting up with this kind of behavior, and I am very surprised to see the police chief trying to excuse it.

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