New Mexico County Faces New Lawsuit Involving Abusive Cavity Searches By Police

220px-Police_car_with_emergency_lights_onWe previously discussed the horrific case out of New Mexico involving David Eckert involving a series of demeaning and invasive cavity searches of an innocent man stopped along a road. That abuse cost the city and county $1.8 million in a recent settlement. However, recent reports indicate that neither the sheriff nor this deputies were disciplined. Now there is a new lawsuit against Hidalgo County that suggests that officers are “cavity happy” in caring about such searches — a frightening prospect for citizens and a ruinous prospect for county taxpayers.


In the earlier case, David 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.

The new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque accuses the police of another traffic stop where Lori Ford, 54, and a friend (who was driving) were ordered out of the car for speeding. Police asked if they could search her car and Ford refused. Police then ordered a K-9 team to the location and seized the car to allow them to secure a search warrant — which required two hours. So you can refuse a search by police but you will have to wait for two hours. I previously wrote about how such refusals for consent can trigger hostile or abuse responses from police. In this case, Ford was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia — items police said were found in the car. However, those charges were shortly later dropped for failure of the police to produce the evidence. Wouldn’t that alone be a disciplinary offense for officers? Either they lied about the evidence or they lost evidence to a crime. Yet, again there is no indication of any discipline in Hidalgo county.

Four days later, Ford tried to retrieve the vehicle and says that officers stripped her naked and put her through a cavity search. Worse yet, she says that she was take to room with several male officers for searches of “anal and vaginal” cavities.

Lordsburg Police Chief Marcus Martinez has refused to comment about the controversy. One would think that a sheriff has an obligation to tell the public something about such a chilling account of abuse. Police often hold immediate press conferences to herald arrests and discuss the alleged crimes of citizens. Yet, they go into radio silence when officers are accused even though there is no pending criminal case. We saw recently how in Dallas (after police were caught in false statements) the Chief of Police responded by barring interviews with officers immediately after shootings to allow them to review the evidence and work on their accounts.

We have not seen the answer to the latest lawsuit but it obviously raised serious concerns over a pattern of abuse in this county. I would have expected a public outcry for answers from this sheriff on these latest allegations and disclosure of the record of any discipline for officers involving in these cases.

40 thoughts on “New Mexico County Faces New Lawsuit Involving Abusive Cavity Searches By Police

  1. There will be cries of outrage from readers, but it is up to Hidalgo citizens to take action.

    If they don’t act to stop these abuses, a reasonable person would have to conclude that the Hidalgo electorate likes anal cavity searches.

  2. Who puts up with that? You would have to beat me, taze me, handcuff me and knock me unconscious. The rules are set by precedent and when the rule of law no longer applies to them it no longer applies to us. When law has lost it’s moral standing and all that is left is the threat of punishment then it may as well not exist. Threat of punishment only goes so far; Men go to war every day and risk life and limb. If a couple of these thugs ended up in ditches it might get their attention.

  3. I have no idea whether the county is insured or not, but if I were an underwriter, I would drop that county like a hot potato. One of the things I find mind-boggling is the mentality of the taxpayers and voters who actually cheer on and encourage this kind of “tough guy” facade of some sheriffs/police chiefs and their departments.

  4. Plaintiff’s lawyers must go after the officers personally, i.e. their wallets or purses. As long as daddy and mommie citizen are paying the bill these sadistic psychopaths will continue their depraved bullying.

  5. Shouldn’t they be charged with sexual abuse as well as losing their jobs? This reminds me of the police raping incidents in India.

  6. Citizens have lost their say, the election process having been hijacked by special interests. Follow the revolving door, from union dues, to campaigns, and then taxpayer funds back to unions, and you will find the woodshed rats. No one gets elected in these small, inbred counties, without belonging to the good old boys/girls club, first.

  7. Dredd. It would be good to get the Complaint filed in the first case and now this one. One must sue the “state actor”, in this case the cop, his Chief probably, to get to the municipality. If there is a group in union to do this constitutional deprivation it might amount to a conspiracy under Section 1985. The fact that the individual cop state actor is hit with a judgment will trigger the payment by an insurance underwriter and/or the city or county. The State, if it is a state cop, will have sovereign immunity. Sometimes a county, in some states, will have sovereign immunity.

    Here, no chump insurance company will insure these schmucks in the future. If the plaintiff does not get an actual judgment against the municipality or county then the muni or county could maybe not reimburse coppo for the judgment against him. Not likely.

    What we want is for the taxpayers to pay big. We don’t want the police force to be able to afford to put these schmucks out on the roads. Speeders may go unchecked but better that than these anal rapists having at it with women and children. Title 42 United States Code Sections 1983 (suits against the igPays), Section 1985 (conspirators), Section 1988 (attorney fees). The young lawyers out there in that Mexican province ought to quit trying to make a living off of divorces and tune into the realm of Section 1983 litigation. Money is there to be had. A lot of lawyers out there in the American lexicon slept through con law class and never took that seminar on civil rights litigation.

  8. Whatever it will cost to settle this case should be deducted from the police budget and the cops responsible for this misconduct should have to bear the costs of the case and the costs should be deducted from their salaries and pensions. This would cause these police thugs to think twice before engaging in this type of behavior. But if there are no consequences this type of misconduct will be repeated

  9. These instances look like something that the Federal Government should be involved in as a blatant violation of civl rights (not to mention common civility.) Why are they on the sidelines while police departments around the country (as you have ably reported) go on the rampage against those who they are theoretically sworn to “protect and serve?”

  10. The pattern of misconduct described here has nothing to do with unions or with the fact that Hidalgo County has a majority Hispanic population. It is instead a reflection of a sheriff’s department out of control. I will not be surprised if the DOJ becomes interested. This is a poor county to begin with, and a few of these cases could spell bankruptcy for the county. But if that’s what it takes to wake up the citizens, so be it.

    At the very least, there needs to be an independent probe, if you will, of the sheriff’s department. It should begin with the resignation of the current sheriff. I also have concerns about the judiciary in Hidalgo County. Were I a judge, I would have second thoughts about ever issuing a search warrant for this bunch.

  11. Someone needs to kidnap the Mayor for a half an hour and provide him with a battery acid enema. No cover charge anytime. The citizens, the elected officials and of course the uttBay pokers, all need to be hurt.

  12. “Four days later, Ford tried to retrieve the vehicle and says that officers stripped her naked and put her through a cavity search. Worse yet, she says that she was take to room with several male officers for searches of “anal and vaginal” cavities.”

    You’ve left out a detail or two. Yes, she was taken to a room with several males who tried to question her. When she refused they took her to the detention center where a female officer conducted the search.

    The idea is not to make sure the taxpayers get hit hard. Doing that will not stop these incidents from happening again and again. The employer can not ensure that such actions will not occur. The employee sees little downside as the union will often prevent him/her from being penalized.

    No the thing to do is to sue the person(s) who did the deed or allowed it to happen. ONLY those actually responsible.

    Good thing for the public: People will quit doing this sort of thing as they face severe penalties. Penalties that outweigh the gain from strip searching someone.

    Bad thing for the victim. The person won’t hit the lottery for being assaulted.

    Good thing for the taxpayers: The victim won’t hit the lottery for being assaulted.

    Good thing for the police: Since people won’t become multimillionaires there will be far less reason to make false claims.

  13. I’ve worked for insurance that cover municipalities. In Wi. there is a mutual insurance company that covers many, if not most municipalities in the state. They are more tolerant than regular insurance companies. Prior to this Wi. mutual company being formed there was a company out of Arizona, I forget their name. They had a large share of the market. They were much tougher and would drop cities, counties, etc. if there were many claims. I worked a bit for this company. They defended a nasty claim against some cops in a smaller town. I investigated for their attorneys and it was obvious from the outset they were going to pay big. They settled quickly and dropped that town in a NY minute.

  14. I would reverse each claim that Bernard makes. If a city can allow just the cop to take a hit on the civil rights case judgment then the city is not responsible for what he is doing. The city can say(regarding their evil cop) that his mother made him what he is. Jerry Jeff Walker hit on this in his song Up Against The Wall Redneck Mothers. Regarding “false claims”. It is hard Bernard, to make a false claim of police civil rights violations in federal court. Butt, when they do the anal retentive thing the jury gets the message. And there the gloved finger up the uttBay is the message not the media. Police dogs wont even work under those circumstances when their cop so called Pals are abusing a woman like this.

    Liability which hits the taxpayers makes the taxpayer vote out the criminal element. Hidalgo has a warped if not criminal mindset in control. It is the voters collective fault. If they have to pay they will change their collective ways.

  15. After reviewing the docket, the complaint is styled:

    Lori Ford v. City of Lordsburg, Joseph Flores, Luke De la Garza, Jason Gallegos, FNU Samuels, Hidalgo County Detention Center, Amanda Wolf

    It asks for punitive damages at various paragraphs in the complaint: “Plaintiff is entitled to recover punitive damages against the individual Defendants” (#96, #103, #109, #119, #130, #146).

    The full prayer for relief reads:

    WHEREFORE, Plaintiff seeks the following relief:

    I. Actual and compensatory damages sufficient to make Plaintiff whole.

    II. Punitive damages against Defendants sufficient to punish them and to deter further
    wrongdoing;

    III. Attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest as provided by
    law; and

    IV. Such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.

    There is a lot more to the case than suggested.

    Mike A is on track that these LEO’s are out of control. The plaintiff brought a bondsman and a TV reporter with video crew when she went to pick up her vehicle. She was not even driving the vehicle at the time of the incident.

    A law review article discussing Monell v. Department of Social Serv-
    ices of the City of New York
    indicates:

    After re-examining the reasoning of Monroe [v. Pape] and the legislative history of the Civil Rights Act of 1871,” the Court held: municipalities and other local government units are “persons” within the meaning of section 1983. In reaching its decision, the Court overruled Monroe to the extent that it had granted municipalities absolute immunity from suit under section 1983. Justice Brennan, writing for the majority, announced that municipalities may be sued under section 1983 for monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief when a constitutional violation is caused by the application of an official policy, regulation, ordinance or custom.” The Court further stated, however, that the doctrine of vicarious liability is inapplicable to section 1983 actions.” Thus, the Court held that municipalities cannot be liable under that section for the constitutional violations of municipal employees solely on the basis of respondent superior. 35 The Court observed that in the present controversy, the unconstitutional action clearly had resulted from the application of an official policy and, hence, the complaint stated a valid cause of action.

    (Boston College Law Review, Volume 21, Issue 2 Number 2, Article 7, 1-1-1980, emphasis added).

    The complaint alleges an official policy, regulation, ordinance or custom:


    142. The Defendants have ignored procedural and substantive Due Process requirements in an unlawful campaign to harass, punish and bully private citizens who they suspect of minor criminal activities despite a laughable absence of probable cause and evidence, and through fraudulent statements by their agents.

    143. The municipal Defendants have trained their officers and have implemented a policy of transforming ordinary traffic stops into invasive searches and seizures, flouting constitutional
    requirements related to private property and liberty interests.

    (id.). Thus, the complaint is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.

  16. Oh, for those who want to look it up: Case 2:14-cv-00080-LAM-CG, Filed 01/28/14, IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO

  17. Accountability is for peon’s not rough and tumble costumed sodomites who hide behind their shields in order to protect themselves from their depraved actions.

  18. What Mike A. said! This county can get itself out of the problem or the DOJ can come in and bring actions. Without something happening soon, the county will be looking for a way out of bankruptcy.

  19. If these most recent allegations against the sheriff’s office personnel are proven I would say there is probable cause to charge the deputies involved with rape. If there was no lawful cause to perform the body cavity search then it is at least Criminal Sexual Penetration in the Third Degree (NMSA 30-9-11-F)

    Some think this to be unusual but I believe it is warranted. It is no different to me than an average citizen doing the same thing. Just because they are police does not mean they receive extra leeway.

  20. Mike Appleton

    The pattern of misconduct described here has nothing to do with unions or with the fact that Hidalgo County has a majority Hispanic population. It is instead a reflection of a sheriff’s department out of control.

    ———————–
    rafflaw

    What Mike A. said! This county can get itself out of the problem or the DOJ can come in and bring actions.

    =========================
    It would be nice if the DOJ would also consider toning down the same type of activity done to Occupy in The NATO 3 trial.

    The newly elected New York City mayor is reigning in his own city’s stop and frisk abuses by dismissing the appeal of the federal judge’s holding about that being unconstitutional.

    And Bloomberg appealing that decision.

    He is directing that it stop, that it be replaced with friendship with the community, and working with the community instead of against it.

    We need more of that everywhere.

  21. My reference to inbred was to characterize the good old boys/girls clubs, not the population at large. Unless you live in a small, inbred county like I do, you couldn’t know what I know, much less what you are even talking about. Special interests run these counties — not voters. The only qualifications for a JP candidate, for example, is to know how to plant one’s lips and on whose backside. In many ways corruption and accountability are far greater than in Washington, just on a smaller scale.

  22. If the people of Hidalgo County have any sense they will de-fund their sheriff dept., as we did Josephine County, SW Oregon. When LEOs become a public hazard/liability the public is better off without them.

  23. It’s admirable how the citizens of Josephine County took charge. It should be rule, not exception, in this country. In my county corruption is higher up. Fish stink from the head, first.

  24. I agree with Beanman. I was glad to hear the details of the Complaint filed against these defendants. I tried to find it on Westlaw and had to give it up when I could not find it. We do have Pacer here. That would work. I would like to follow the case as it goes through summary judgment motions.

  25. it will only stop when people begin to accept the truth about what a birth certificate is and what human resources is really about… because its right in their faces that they are now paying the cops to abuse,kill,rape, cavity search, stompy, rob, etc the people…

    it will only stop when the people accept the truth about the federal reserve and STAND UP FOR THEIR GOD GIVEN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS.

  26. Samantha: “My reference to inbred was to characterize the good old boys/girls clubs, not the population at large. …”

    I looked up Josephine county.
    This story is about armed posse patrols to fill in for the sheriff’s department …… reduced by budget cuts to three deputies on patrol eight hours a day, five days a week.
    http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/headlines/armed-posse-patrols-in-place-of-josephine-county-sheriff/article_66372de6-4aae-5977-92b5-974f5fcf40a2.html

    As an aside from the main thrust of the story ….

    “In a rural community like this, we all know each other, and we’re all related,” said Carol Dickson, who ……”

    Cue the dueling banjos!
    ……. But I take Samantha’s point re ‘good old boys/girls clubs’.
    .

    Defunding sheriff’s offices might solve one sort of problem, but it might facilitate other problems.

  27. The Dueling Banjos cue gave me stitches. When Dixon said “…we’re all related to each other,” she did not include, to the exclusion of all the newly arrivals. These good old boy / girl clubs have less to do with blood lines, more with money lines, accounting for why friendships cross race, religion, and gender lines. Money is a great equalizer. It’s why everyone gets along in multicultural Hollywood so well.

  28. I’m from this town. This crap has been going on for years from cops sleeping with underage minors to harassing citizens they do not like just to seek revenge I would know I’m one of those citizens. These losers have done it all and anytime anyone tries to take a stand not to get money but to have them fired they get shot down and ignored. My mother is one of them. Just when it seemed that this would never end finally someone willing to take it national to expose these idiots. They are not here to protect an serve more like out to get and destroy lives. If someone was to really come down and investigate these 2 stories would be nothing compared to the ones they would hear. So many complaints have been made on these officers especially Luke De La Garza but it just seems to get overlooked and swept under the rug. In all honesty we need some serious help with these guy because after all the money they cause tax payers again Luke being the ringleader of it all you would think they would have no job oh but they do still parked on Main Street up to no good , flipping off kids they don’t like it’s really ridiculous and sad for our town. If anyone can help put a stop to this to at least get these criminals with badges of the streets I’m with ya !!

  29. The Department of Justice needs to deal with these perps. President Obama is on a roll with doing things for the little people after the State of the Union speech. Can someone send this blog to Holder?

  30. Not the same story, but on the same sort of theme, the video is this story is mindblowing.
    It starts with some Omaha cops beating up a guy. A neighbor standing nearby records this on his mobile phone. He retreats into his house.
    All of a sudden, what seems like most of the Omaha police dept begin to show up – and all head straight into the witness’s house. Well, OK, ya got me. it was only “over 30” of them. Over 30 cops? WTx? Maybe they were all related?
    The street fills with cop cars. A helicopter is heard overhead.
    Unknown to the cops, another neighbor is filiming it all from an upstairs window.
    http://boingboing.net/2014/01/30/omaha-cop-fired-for-beating-s.html

    But:

    “Omaha police officer Bradley D Canterbury was fired after he beat up a suspect and then participated in a brutal, illegal retaliatory raid on the home of a citizen who’d video-recorded the incident. Canterbury was one of over 30 Omaha police officers who broke into a family home without a warrant intending to destroy mobile phone video evidence of his violent actions, and was one of six officers from that cohort who were fired for the beating.

    Now he’s got his job back.”

    Apparently what happened was acceptable police action. It’s official.

  31. I am a citizen of Lordsburg newMexico I have also been harassed by the polic across the street from my work and say they’re watching me they told my boss and coorporate that i was eledgedly selling meth out of the drive thru window at McDonalds come on how stupid is that excuse for harrasing tourist cumming and going out and in our town. I am a manager at mcdonalds and was arrested by luke de la garza and was not treated like a citizen paying taxes. I lost my house, job,car and dignity in my small home town. Chief greg martinez put my picture in the news paper with alleged trafficing charges and i used my last paycheck to bond out. I have not been at our drive thru window since ive been back i have witnesses a nd cameras to prove there alegatations wrong. wouldnt loose my job but was terminated due to false charges. I cant even get an appartmernt and passbackground check. I am barely getting back on feet. Got rehired but now the police called my coorporate office and said many false accusations about parkin across mcdonalds because i was selling meth out of drive thru window so they park there to watch me. If that isn’t harassment the whats

  32. harrased and labeled, I’m curious, have you made corporate aware of the police abuse in your community? If not, maybe an anonymous letter to the CEO of McDonalds, suggesting their decision to terminate potentially makes them a party to the police abuse.

    Also, have you considered a wrongful termination suit against corporate or, better yet, do this: Get in touch with the lawyers of the plaintiffs that are mentioned above in this post. They will certainly consult with you as to whether your case has potential for another lawsuit against the police, whoose bell, it might seem, hasn’t been wrung hard enough yet.

    It must be very frustrating for you, when you plead for help and no one steps up to the plate. It speaks of the moral decline of this once great nation of hours.

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