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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.


    “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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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 !!

  6. 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.

    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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

  10. 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.


    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.

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. If Ford was never charged why would she need to be questioned to receive her vehicle.

  15. 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

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