City, county settle in controversial anal probing case

Posted at: 01/12/2014 10:15 PM
Updated at: 01/12/2014 11:52 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

In November, a KOB 4 On Your Side investigation outraged the nation and the story of David Eckert went viral.

From coast to coast, people wanted justice for the New Mexico man who was anally probed and forced to undergo a colonoscopy after police suspected he had drugs in his rectum.

Sunday, Eckert tells KOB that he is finding some justice after a major court decision in his case.

It was difficult for anyone to imagine what Eckert went through.

Medical records and a federal lawsuit show that Deming police officers and Hidalgo County deputies suspected he had drugs after a routine traffic stop.

They violated a warrant by taking him to a hospital in a different county.

At the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City, doctors performed multiple procedures including abdominal X-rays, anal exams, forced enemas, forced stool samples and ended with a surgical colonoscopy.

Eckert sued the City of Deming, Hidalgo County, the doctors, the Gila Regional Medical Center and a deputy district attorney who signed off on the warrants.

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.

"We have a Constitution that limits the power of our government and limits the power of investigating our citizens," Kennedy said.

There is no resolution yet with the doctors, the hospital or the assistant district attorney.

Kennedy says if necessary, a jury may have to decide on the case with these defendants if they do not agree to take responsibility soon.

For the first time, Eckert is speaking out about the case through a written statement:

"I feel that I got some justice as I think the settlement shows they were wrong to do what they did to me. I truly hope that no one will be treated like this ever again. I felt very helpless and alone on that night. My family and I hope that people understand that I don’t want my face linked with jokes related to anal probing. For this reason, I asked my attorneys to issue this statement in the hopes that the media will respect my privacy.”

Attorneys for Hidalgo County have racked up nearly $55,000 in legal fees.

The City of Deming has not responded to KOB's requests for information.