Second NM lawsuit filed over body cavity searches

Nov 9, 2013, 12:35 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A second lawsuit was filed Friday against southern New Mexico authorities accused of illegally subjecting drug suspects to invasive body cavity searches. And the attorney who filed the cases says she has been getting calls from others saying they were detained after the uncertified drug-sniffing dog at the heart of both cases raised suspicions.

Albuquerque civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy filed the new lawsuit against the Hidalgo County sheriff’s office on behalf of Timothy Young, who says he was strip-searched in a gas station parking lot, then taken to the hospital for a cavity search. The lawsuit claims the searches were unreasonable, and that the body cavity search was in violation of the search warrant issued. Kennedy says the warrant was issued to search his body but not body cavities.

The sheriff of the border county could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kennedy has also filed suit against the sheriff’s office and police in Deming on behalf of a southern New Mexico man who was taken to two hospitals and forced to have anal probes, three enemas, two body X-rays and a colonoscopy following a traffic stop.

The police chief in Deming, which is about 60 miles west of Las Cruces, did not return phone calls. But in response to the lawsuit, the officers said they were lawfully carrying out their duties.

Both men were initially pulled over for traffic violations, and the searches ensued after the county’s drug-sniffing dog, Leo, indicated he detected drugs and search warrants were issued. No drugs were found in either case, but both men are being billed by the hospitals, Kennedy said.

“The dog is alerting on the driver’s seat, and they are detaining people for hours,” Kennedy said.

The lawsuit says Leo is neither adequately trained nor properly certified for narcotics searches. It says there are no state records showing he’s properly certified under New Mexico law.

The man in the first lawsuit, David Eckert, pleaded guilty to using methamphetamine in 2008. According to the lawsuit, Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputies told Deming police officers that Eckert was known in the area for carrying drugs inside his body. Young, who filed the new lawsuit, has no drug record, according to Kennedy.

The lawsuits have raised questions about drug searches along the border. In addition to the two cases filed by Kennedy, the American Civil Liberties Union says it is preparing to sue the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on behalf of a woman who was crossing into El Paso in December and subjected to invasive searches after a drug dog alerted agents.

Attorney Laura Schauer Ives says the woman was strip-searched at the crossing, then taken to the hospital for vaginal and anal probes, a forced bowel movement, X-rays and scans. No drugs were found, the ACLU said, and the hospital is charging her thousands of dollars. Schauer Ives said the woman’s medical records refer to her being brought in both by Border Patrol and customs agents. The group has had a Freedom of Information Request pending since April to identify the officers and which departments of CBP were involved.

A spokesman for the agency, Doug Mosier, said he was unaware of the case and unable to verify such a search occurred at one of the El Paso crossings, which screen thousands of people every day.

Mosier also declined to discuss agency practices and policies on strip searches, citing the pending litigation. But he said the agency believes human rights are important.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Demonstrators block traffic protesting the death of Tyre Nichols on January 27, 2023 in Memphis, Te...
Associated Press

Memphis police chief disbands unit responsible in beating of Tyre Nichols

The unit is composed of three teams of about 30 officers and had been inactive since Tyre Nichols' Jan. 7 arrest.
23 hours ago
The image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows Tyre Nichols on the g...
Associated Press

Memphis authorities release video in Tyre Nichols’ death

Video showing Memphis officers beating a Black man was made public Friday after they were charged with murder in the death of Tyre Nichols.
2 days ago
Demonstrators stage a rally in front of the White House to celebrate President Joe Biden's plan to ...
Kevin Stone

Lawsuits keeping over 300,000 Arizonans from getting student loan relief

Lawsuits are preventing more than 300,000 Arizonans from having some or all of their student debt dismissed, the Biden administration said Friday.
2 days ago
FILE -  A Goodyear tire sits on display at a tire shop on Feb. 12, 2014, in South Euclid, Ohio. A f...
Associated Press

Arizona lawyer subpoenaed in criminal investigation of Goodyear tires

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles is gathering evidence in a criminal investigation of Goodyear recreational vehicle tires.
3 days ago
Following days of rain, floodwaters cover streets in the Planada community of Merced County, Calif....
Associated Press

Atmospheric rivers in California boost water allocation for cities

Public water agencies in California will be getting more water from the state because of recent heavy rain.
3 days ago
(Brian Munoz/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)...
Associated Press

FDA declines to regulate CBD; calls on Congress for fix

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday there are too many unknowns about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements under the agency’s current structure and called on Congress to create new rules for the massive and growing market. The marijuana-derived products have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods, while their […]
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Second NM lawsuit filed over body cavity searches