A New York man wrongly accused of hiding drugs in his colon not only got an unwanted rectal probe, but also got stuck with the $4,600 bill — after police found nothing hidden there.
The incident took place in Syracuse, where police say Torrence Jackson was picked up by police after failing to use his turn signal. As the BBC reported, a search of the man’s car turned up a bag of marijuana as well as cocaine residue, but police believed that the man had more drugs he was hiding — inside his body. Jackson denied the allegation.
Officers had claimed that Jackson’s posture made them think he was hiding the drugs inside his body, and an officer was injured during the struggle to arrest him. Jackson also broke his arm in the struggle, before being taken into custody.
Doctors first took an X-ray of Jackson’s body, which showed no foreign objects in his body.
At this point, police went to a judge to obtain a warrant for a procedure that would send a flexible 8-inch tube into his rectum. As the Post-Standard reported, this led to a standoff with doctors, who refused to perform the rectal exam after the X-ray showed that he had nothing in his body.
“We would not be doing that,” one doctor reportedly told officers.
But a hospital lawyer intervened, telling the doctors that Jackson did not have the right to refuse the procedure. The man was forcibly sedated and doctors performed the procedure.
The decision shocked legal experts, who said that they had not seen such drastic measures taken in response to what police believed was a small amount of drugs.
“It’s crazy. It’s over the top, by far,” Hermann Walz, a longtime criminal attorney and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Post-Standard. “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?”
Syracuse, NY, police pulled a man over for a turn-signal violation...then broke his arm, pepper-sprayed him, took him to the hospital where he was knocked out so they could search for drugs in his ass. They found nothing. Mayor stands by the police.https://t.co/dSNSDa8swZ— Nick Encalada-Malinowski (@nwmalinowski) December 20, 2018
The incident was only uncovered when the Post-Standard reviewed police reports, medical records, and court documents. The newspaper reached out to the city’s mayor and police chief, who both refused to comment on Jackson’s case. But experts told the newspaper that the city and police department likely violated Torrence Jackson’s civil rights.
Torrence Jackson was sent home the next day with blood in his underwear, the report noted. When he received the bill for $4,600, he refused to pay it. The hospital eventually forgave the bill.