Search and seizure is an important issue in the area of drug offenses. Those suspected of criminal activity have certain rights, and when police officers hastily trample over those rights, there are consequences, not only for the suspect, but for the integrity of any criminal case that may be pursued. Without these protections, it would be too easy for officers to abuse their power.
An example of the kind of abuse that can take place took place earlier this year, when a New Mexico man was subjected to numerous search attempts on his person on suspicion that he was carrying drugs—or more accurately, that he had stored them in his colon.
Officers apparently witnessed the man failing to yield at a stop sign outside a Wal-Mart. When he was stopped and told to step out of the car, officers noticed that he kept his legs together and that his posture was unusually erect, and they suspected he was carrying drugs. Because of the suspicion, officers obtained a warrant to do an anal cavity search. That may perhaps be reasonable, but officers didn’t stop there.
Although they did not get permission to conduct any medical procedures, they subjected the suspect to three enemas and a colonoscopy, in addition to the anal cavity search. Those procedures were conducted even though an x-ray was clear in showing that there was nothing to be found. All of this was done despite the suspect’s protests. No drugs were found.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the officers were part of the Border Drug Task Force, according to the suit. Now the man is suing police for conducting an unreasonable search and seizure, as well as the hospital and doctors for negligence. There are no criminal charges since no evidence was found, but if evidence had been found, there would likely be a big question as to whether the evidence could even be admitted at trial.
Source: Business Insider, “Man Sues Town In New Mexico—Describes Total Nightmare That Came About After A Routine Traffic Stop,” Erin Fuchs, November 5, 2013.