Every so often I come across a story about a horrendous abuse of power by police. I say to myself, “I hope that couldn’t happen in NH.” The following happened in New Mexico, but I would like to think it could never happen anywhere in the United States.
A man was stopped for not coming to a complete stop when exiting a parking lot. An officer thought the man was clenching his buttocks and decided that was probable cause to search for drugs. On that flimsy evidence the police obtained a search warrant that allowed for an anal cavity search. They took him to a hospital for an x-ray, which showed no trace of hidden drugs. That is when it got worse:
- Doctors at that hospital refused to perform an anal search, saying it would be unethical, so police took the man to a hospital in a different county – where the search warrant was invalid.
- Doctors at the second hospital did the anal search and found nothing.
- They then gave him an enema, searched the stool and found nothing.
- Then a second enema and even a third enema – nothing
- Another x-ray – nothing
- They then prepped him for surgery, sedated him, and did a colonoscopy. Again, nothing was found.
All this without any consent of their “patient”.
If police can arrest someone just for the way they appear to be standing, and if doctors can perform medical procedures without any consent, then we live in a police state.
Not surprisingly, the man sued the city, the individual police officers, the hospital, and the doctors. The city settled for $1.6 million; the hospital has not yet settled. The settlement and national outrage over this incident may prevent a recurrence; that’s the good news.
The bad news is that it is the taxpayers who end up paying the bill. Whenever the government settles a case for their officers’ outrageous behavior, it is the taxpayers who suffer. It ought to be the wrongdoers who are punished.