Man Subjected To Multiple Rectal Searches And Enemas By Police Officers Receives $1.6 Million Settlement
from the the-justice-pendulum-moves-slightly-in-the-other-direction dept
David Eckert, the Deming, NM man who was subjected to hours of invasive anal “searches” by two police officers (and a very compliant hospital staff), has received a settlement from two of the entities named in his lawsuit. For those of you who don’t remember what Eckert went through in order to “produce” drugs he simply didn’t have, here’s the rundown.
- Eckert’s abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.
- Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
- Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.
- Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
- Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
- Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time. Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers. Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool. No narcotics were found.
- Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.
- Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines. No narcotics were found.
Every search was nonconsensual and Eckert was detained for a total of 14 hours by the police, who also apparently mocked him before, during and after the medical procedures. The “justification” for these searches was one officer’s “observation” that Eckert stance when he exited his vehicle was a bit “too erect” for an innocent man. The drug dog alerted on Eckert’s car seat and at that point, the “evidence” was apparently too much to be ignored. When everything was said and done, the Gila Regional Medical Center presented Eckert with a bill for the procedures performed on him against his will and sent collection agencies after him when he refused to pay.
Eckert sued the city of Deming, Hildalgo County, the doctors involved, the Gila Regional Medical Center (which performed the searches after doctors at the Deming hospital refused to) and the District Attorney. So far, he’s received a settlement from the city and county.
In December, Hidalgo County and the City of Deming settled.
Through a records request, 4OYS learned that settlement amount is set at $1.6 million.
“The gratifying aspect of this case is the media attention that it has gotten and the opportunity for discussions in the law enforcement and medical communities about how to deal with these opportunities and what to do with requests from law enforcement about medical exams for people in custody,” Eckert’s attorney Joseph Kennedy said.
Here is the settlement breakdown: Hidalgo County will pay $650,000 and the City of Deming will pay $950,000.
If the other entities involved “refuse to take responsibility,” Eckert’s lawyer will push for a jury trial. This ends the financial bleeding for the city and county, the latter of which has already spent $55,000 in taxpayer funds fighting the lawsuit. There’s always the slim hope that large settlements will encourage the overseers of police departments (city and county governments) to realize that preventative measures are likely the cheaper option. Officers, like the two involved in this case, should be ousted before they cost taxpayers millions of dollars in settlements. (It’s unlikely this was either officer’s first abusive act.) Failing that, the penalties for the officers involved should be severe enough that it discourages other officers from engaging in abusive acts — for instance, holding the individuals involved financially responsible for the reimbursing the cost of the settlements.
As it stands now, Eckert has received $1.6 million and the implicit admission that he was wronged by the city and county via the officers’ actions. Now, he needs the same from the hospital that was so willing to aid these officers in tormenting him in search of drugs he didn’t possess.