A man stopped by police in Syracuse, New York on October 2017 had a rather unusual search performed on him as the police looked for drugs, and later got a $4,595.12 bill for the service: a rectal probe.
Torrence Jackson, 42, was arrested after failing to signal a turn following a traffic stop; officers reportedly found a baggie of marijuana and cocaine residue on his car seat. Jackson had a prior rap sheet, including charges of resisting arrest, drug use, weapons charges and leading police on chases. Reason.com reported police said he taunted them that he’d hidden drugs inside his rectum. When he was asked for his consent for the sigmoidoscopy at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, he refused; he reportedly refused to take a laxative meant to speed up a bowel movement and allegedly would not consent to a standard rectal exam.
At least two doctors did not want to perform the procedure, as an X-ray had been performed that saw nothing in the cavity. The hospital’s general counsel spoke with the judge who signed the search warrant, which had been created by the police and signed at the judge’s home. Then the lawyer decided to proceed with the procedure, informing the doctors that the search warrant required them to use “any means” to retrieve the drugs.
After sedating Jackson, the procedure was performed with an 8-inch flexible tube.
Hermann Walz, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, remarked, “It’s crazy. It’s over the top, by far. You’re looking for marijuana and cocaine? It’s extreme. If they wanted to cut him open and look at his stomach, that would be OK, too?”
Critics say the cops, the judge and hospital may have violated the civil rights of the suspect, subjected him to medical risk, and exposed the city and the hospital to a lawsuit.
According to the Daily Mail, “Since Jackson never consented to the court-ordered scope, the hospital charged him more than $4,000, and when he refused to pay, threatened to send the bill to collections.”
As The Daily Beast reports, Jackson said in a YouTube video:
I have people basically trying to kill me. They put me in this room and I’m yelling and screaming, “Don’t, don’t do anything to me… I don’t consent to y’all working on me.”
Other cases of invasive exams being performed on suspects have resulted in settlements, Reason.com reports:
In 2016, the federal government and an El Paso hospital agreed to pay a New Mexico woman roughly $1.6 million dollars for the six hours of invasive cavity searches she was subjected to after a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) drug-sniffing dog alerted to her. In 2014, the city of Deming, New Mexico, paid David Eckert $1.6 million after he was subjected to two X-rays, two digital probes of his anus, three enemas, and a colonoscopy in an ultimately vain search for drugs.In another 2014 settlement, CBP and the same El Paso hospital agreed to pay out $1.1 million to a woman who endured a similarly degrading series of cavity searches.