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Editorial: NM needs answers in colonoscopy debacle

Just Google “colonoscopy” and “New Mexico.” The numerous negative hits range from CNN to the New York Daily News to the Huffington Post and beyond.

In what is at best a ridiculous miscarriage of police power and at worst a case of kidnapping with assault and battery, David W. Eckert, a 54-year-old Lordsburg man, says he was picked up in Deming, then driven around until law enforcement found a medical team willing to conduct two digital rectal exams, two X-rays, three enemas, and a forced sedation and colonoscopy.

All for rolling through a stop sign. And all in a futile search for drugs. In fact, Eckert never faced charges. But someone on the other side of this equation should.

Eckert has filed a federal lawsuit that reads like the outtakes from “The Hangover IV,” and is seeking damages, attorney fees, litigation expenses and protection for himself and his family from “ongoing harassment and intimidation of defendants.” Attorneys for the defendants have not disputed the facts.

And so an independent criminal investigation is warranted as well, because:

  • The warrant was issued in Luna County but the extensive rectal exams were conducted in Grant County; the Luna County physician refused to conduct the procedures on ethical grounds.
  • The warrant specified an anal cavity exam, not a scope inserted into the colon under anesthesia.
  • And the colonoscopy was done at 1 a.m., yet the warrant had expired at 10 p.m.

Adding insult to injury, Eckert was billed $6,000 for the tests and the bill was turned over to collections.


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The six law enforcement officers, Deming Police and Hidalgo County Sheriff’s departments, prosecutor, two doctors and Gila Regional Medical Center named in the lawsuit have some serious explaining to do, including why they should continue to be employed or operate at taxpayer expense. At least two of the officers and the hospital are named in a second, similar suit involving another driver.

And the state, which is campaigning south of the border to “bring people and dollars to New Mexico,” should ensure those answers are satisfactory, unless it plans to start including involuntary medical tests in its tourism campaign.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.