Q: Did it hurt when she inserted it?
A: Oh, yeah. Bad.
Q: Describe that for me.
A: Just as if somebody would take a burning hot coal and stick it up your penis.—
Deposition of Jamie Lockard, in a lawsuit against police in southeastern Indiana
In the United States there is a wealth of case law pertaining to the Fourth Amendment, with the U.S. Supreme Court and the rest of the judiciary fashioning jurisprudence on what constitutes an unreasonable search or seizure. But the courts have yet to reach any kind of consensus about one particularly cringe-worthy practice, as exemplified by what happened to Jamie Lockard in a small town in southeast Indiana, close to the Ohio border.
In March of 2009, police in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, pulled Lockard over for not stopping at a stop sign. Suspecting he was drunk, the police had him take a breathalyzer test. He blew a .07 percent, just under the legal limit. The police then obtained a search warrant for blood and urine samples and took Lockard to a local hospital. The blood draw — nurse and needle, with no resistance from Lockard — was no problem. The urine was another matter. Unable to get a sample from Lockard the conventional way — hospital personnel said he wouldn’t go, Lockard said he couldn’t go — the police took Lockard to the emergency room and handcuffed him to a bed. A police sergeant held one of Lockard’s ankles while an officer held the other. A nurse inserted a catheter — a tube, typically 16 inches long — up the urethra, through the prostate and into the bladder.
Ultimately, Lockard pleaded guilty to reckless driving and got a suspended sentence. (His blood sample produced a blood-alcohol content of .05 percent.). But he sued the police officers and the city of Lawrenceburg, alleging the forced catheterization had violated his civil rights. In a deposition, Lockard described pain both physical — “felt like something twisting where it ain’t supposed to be twisting” — and emotional: “Like it could happen again. Just makes you think, what’s this world coming to. It was bad, bad.”
In 2011, a federal judge in Indiana threw out the lawsuit, ruling that the police were entitled to qualified immunity. Under the law, police cannot be held liable for “bad guesses in gray areas,” according to the courts. And this case, the federal judge wrote, fell into “nebulous territory.” While the U.S. Supreme Court has drawn lines on extracting blood and even bullets from involuntary suspects for purposes of gathering evidence, the forcible extraction of urine remains an unsettled area of the law. One lower court wrote that forced catheterization is “more intrusive than a needle but less intrusive than a scalpel, making it hard to classify.”
Read more here.