CA5: Officers get QI for body cavity search with SW that turned up nothing

Plaintiff’s pat down at the jail after a valid arrest led officers to believe that he had something protruding from his anus. He denied anything was there, and he refused to consent to removing it. Officers got a search warrant for an anal cavity search at the jail. A doctor performed the search and nothing was found. Plaintiff then sued arguing that the search should never have occurred. The defendants get qualified immunity because there was probable cause. Charlot v. City of Houston, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34633 5th Cir. Dec. 10, 2018)*:

Perhaps in retrospect the magistrate should not have authorized the cavity search, but we agree with the district court that Charlot has failed to demonstrate that the defendants acted unreasonably in requesting or complying with the warrant—as he must to overcome the assertion of qualified immunity. Charlot argues that the officers should have known that a cavity search was unnecessary and not the least intrusive option. But the Supreme Court “has repeatedly stated that reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment does not require employing the least intrusive means, because the logic of such elaborate less-restrictive-alternative arguments could raise insuperable barriers to the exercise of virtually all search-and-seizure powers.” Charlot has not demonstrated that the search was so clearly unconstitutional that the defendants were prohibited from relying on the warrant. Appearing to concede that the law is not clearly established on this point, he states in his briefing that this would be the first case in the nation “where a cavity search authorized by a warrant was still unconstitutional.” We cannot conclude, from the facts and arguments Charlot has presented, that the district court erred in granting qualified immunity to the defendants.

This entry was posted in Body searches, Qualified immunity. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.