Newsbrief: Bostonian Sues Over Drug Raid Strip-Search 4/23/04

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A Boston man forced to strip and endure an anal search while visiting his girlfriend's apartment during a drug raid last year has filed a federal civil right lawsuit against the city of Boston and two Boston police drug investigators, the Boston Globe reported. Police violated his civil and constitutional rights by subjecting him to the indignity without probable cause and in violation of departmental policy, the suit alleges.

On March 23, 2003, Boston police drug squads carrying a search warrant raided the apartment of Jacqueline Lugo, the girlfriend of plaintiff Ivan Santiago, who was visiting the apartment at the time. The raiders' target was Lugo's brother, Ronaldo Lugo, the lawsuit explains. After police threatened to take Jacqueline Lugo's two-year-old child if Ronaldo did not cooperate, he admitted to hiding drugs in his anal cavity and in a stuffed animal.

Officers seized the drugs and arrested Ronaldo Lugo, but before leaving the apartment, their supervisor, Detective Sergeant William Feeney, ordered Officer Marcus Eddings to take Santiago into the bathroom and search him, the lawsuit says. Eddings made Santiago remove his clothing piece by piece, then performed a body cavity search with rubber gloves. He found no drugs on (or in) Santiago, who has no criminal record.

Santiago first tried to get justice through the department, filing a complaint with the internal affairs division. But that investigation found nothing wrong except that Feeney had failed to note the search on his incident report.

Santiago's attorney, Stephen Hrones, told the Globe that having a seach warrant did not give police the right to do cavity searches on his client. "You don't have the right to search everybody on the premises," he said. "Plus, they violated their own rules," he said, explaining that departmental policy allows body cavity searches only when there is "a high degree of probable cause" and only by qualified medical personnel. Hrones told the Globe that he knew of at least three similar cases, and he believes that Boston police routinely violate that policy.

It is sometimes said that you are what you eat. In the case of Boston's narcs, it may be a case of you are what you search.

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