Body Cavity Searches in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota Supreme Court suppresses evidence found in forced body cavity search
In a recent case involving invasive bodily searches, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned a man's drug conviction after concluding that evidence of illegal drugs obtained subsequent to a forced body cavity search directed by police violated his constitutional rights to dignity, personal privacy and bodily integrity.
The opinion, State v. Brown, limits how far police can go when performing body cavity searches on an uncooperative suspects when searching for illegal drugs.
In 2015, Minneapolis police, with the assistance of a confidential informant, set up a controlled buy of drugs from Guntallwon Brown and soon arrested him.
Believing that Mr. Brown had hidden a bag of crack cocaine in his rectum, officers went to a Hennepin County District Court judge and secured a search warrant for a body cavity search.
At the hospital, the emergency room physician refused to remove the baggie. Mr. Brown was offered a laxative, but the doctor declined a request from police to force the suspect to take it. Mr. Brown refused officersâ requests to remove the drugs.
After some time, the officers obtained a second warrant from the judge that directed hospital staff to âuse any medical/physical means necessaryâ to retrieve the suspected narcotics.
Mr. Brown was then taken to a different facility where medical staff strapped him down and sedated him. In the presence of two officers, a physician used a speculum and forceps to extract a baggie that was ultimately found to contain 2.9 grams of cocaine.
Writing for a 5-1 majority, Justice Paul Thissen wrote, "If a coerced invasion of oneâs anal cavity â an area inherently personal and private â while sedated and in front of strangers is not a serious and substantial intrusion of an individualâs dignitary interest in personal privacy and bodily integrity, we cannot fathom what is."
In her lone dissent, Justice Anne McKeig called the search âreasonable,ânoting that the medical staff did not observe any bleeding or abrasions.Â Additionally, Justice McKieg noted that Mr. Brown was offered less invasive options when he was taken to the hospital; the sedation was done for Brownâs comfort; and that the anoscopy performed by the physician is a low-risk, uncomplicated procedure.
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