All drivers dread it: those red and blue lights coming from behind them. We draw in our breath, try to ignore the sinking feeling in our gut, and pray that the lights will quickly pass us. When they do not, four letter words are often muttered, anxiety mounts as we pull over, fearing the worst. However, for most drivers the worst involves only a speeding ticket.
New Mexico driver, David Eckert, received much worse.
New Mexico News Team 4 On Your Side reported that after rolling through a stop sign, Eckert’s car was sniffed for drugs by a K-9 named Leo. Leo alerted the officers that it sniffed drugs on the driver’s seat, and officers Bobby Orosco and Robert Chavez took action.
What happened next was 14 hours of medical testing performed on Eckert to determine if he had drugs in his system. Police officers and doctors at the Gila Regional Medical Center performed eight procedures on Eckert, including x-rays, rectal finger exams, enemas and a colonoscopy. No drugs were found in Eckert’s system.
Leo the K-9 alerted officers of drugs on a similar man stopped due to turning without a signal. Timothy Young was stopped for this violation, with Leo alerting the officers that drugs were on Young’s seat.
Young was also taken to Gila Regional Medical Center in Silvery City, reports 4 On Your Side, and medical procedures, including stomach x-rays and anal exam were performed. Just like Eckert, no drugs were found in his system.
All of these procedures were performed without consent by either Eckert or Young and were not covered by the search warrant. This presents a problem.
Investigators with 4 On Your Side found that Leo was not a certified drug dog in New Mexico. According to his certification, while he was trained, the certification expired in April 2011. K-9s must be re-certified yearly.
“We have done public requests to find anything that would show this dog has been trained, we have evidence that this dog has had false alerts in the past,” Eckert’s attorney Shannon Kennedy told 4 On Your Side.
These actions are not going without penalty. The doctors who performed these tests have been turned over to the state licensing board, with the potential of losing their medical licenses. The police officers have also been turned over to law enforcement board.
In the meantime? Be very careful while driving in New Mexico.