Judge rules forced catheterizations unconstitutional
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota law enforcement officers cannot rely on involuntary catheterization to obtain urine samples from suspects because it is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled.
Chief Judge Roberto Lange of the U.S. Federal Court for the District of South Dakota said Monday that forced catheterization violates the Fourth Amendment that protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Police used the catheters to obtain urine samples to determine if suspects had ingested drugs, the Argus Leader reported.
“Defendants’ need to obtain the plaintiffs’ urine to prove a low-level drug crime did not justify subjecting the plaintiffs to involuntary catheterization, a highly invasive — and in these cases — degrading medical procedure,” Lange wrote in his 106-page opinion.
Lange recounted details of each catheterization, including videos taken by law enforcement that showed three of the plaintiffs screaming in pain. Two of the six were not arrested for, or suspected of, drug crimes.
The judge noted that law enforcement could have used a blood test to get evidence of illegal drug use.
He dismissed the cases against the individual officers named in the suit, with the exceptions of one, Adam Woxland, who is accused of directing another officer to perform catheterization on a female suspect, and watching as it took place.
A trial date has not been set.