Standard Police Equipment in Deming, New Mexico

Standard Police Equipment in Deming, New Mexico

I’ve been following the David Eckert Case for some time. The most recent news involved a $1.6 million dollar settlement from the county and city involved, but a suit or suits are doubtless pending against the hospital and doctors involved in Eckert’s serial anal rape. The first four articles may be found here:

The Politics of Police Rape: The David Eckert Case

The Politics of Police Rape: The David Eckert Case, Update 2

The Politics of Police Rape: The David Eckert Case, Part 3

The Politics of Police Rape: The David Eckert Case, Part 4

Local media outlet KOB.com has the story:

It is an unimaginable in America that a doctor would perform enemas and a colonoscopy without consent, but according to a southern New Mexico man’s lawsuit, that’s exactly what happened.

David Eckert says he was taken to two hospitals and subjected to two anal probes, including a colonoscopy. All because, he was told, officers suspected he had drugs.

But drugs were never found.

The county and the city of Deming settled the case for $1.6 million.

Now, New Mexico’s medical review commission agreed unanimously that there was a reasonable probability that the doctor involved, Okay Odocha, committed “professional negligence” and committed harm to David Eckert, according to his attorney, Shannon Kennedy.

‘We were not surprised by the result. But clearly it sends a positive message that doctors and attorneys on the board, that his peers in his profession, are telling him loud and clear to take personal responsibility for his action,’ Kennedy said.

The article contains yet another statement from Kennedy urging Odocha to take responsibility. Normally attorneys suing anyone care little for apologies. What is Kennedy up to? The article suggests an answer:

That unanimous vote by the commission clears a major hurdle required by state law to sue a doctor for negligence or malpractice. Eckert’s attorney says Dr. Odocha still won’t admit that he did something wrong.

Kennedy has a real problem. The $1.6 million settlement is a major admission of fault, whether the City of Deming and its officers speak those words or not. As I noted in earlier articles, Dr. Odocha will surely claim that he was acting in good faith and would never have gone to the lengths he did were the Deming officers not there, claiming to have a court order to do all they were demanding that Odocha do. That’s not an unreasonable stance.

Doctors generally know little about warrants and court orders and trust the police not to put them in a position like that into which the Deming police put Dr. Odocha. When an officer claims they have the authority of the courts to do what they did to Eckert, and actually have the warrant in hand, any doctor would likely have reason to think their authority valid.

Of course, Kennedy can argue that the hospital has attorneys who could and should have been consulted if Odocha had any concerns, and that what was done to Eckert went so far beyond the professional and ethical practice of medicine he should have simply refused to participate, and that too is a reasonable argument. With this in mind, Kennedy would surely love an admission of responsibility on the record to help tip any jurors straddling the fence her way.  Odocha’s lawyers are surely telling him to keep his mouth shut.

For the lawyers representing the hospital and doctors involved there are also considerable risks. They’ll need to rely on the testimony of hostile and badly tainted officers to make their case. Putting them on the stand will open them to being forced to admit they were wrong, exceeded their authority, and paid for it. This will not be conducive to painting Dr. Odocha sympathetically in anyone’s mind, particularly if those officers paint Odocha as a willing participant in serial rapes occurring over many hours.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, this is an incredibly ugly case that will hurt a great many people for many years to come. I’ll continue to report as more information becomes available.