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Laxative Rights Violated


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Laxative Rights Violated

xPosed, May 2005

By AP Staff


Associated Press Writer

Police in Milwaukee performed an unreasonable search and seizure when they forced a man to take laxative treatments for several hours until they recovered a baggie of heroin he swallowed, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Police officers said they gave Tomas Payano-Roman the treatment at a Milwaukee hospital in 2002 because they feared the bag would break and he would die of a drug overdose.

But the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled prosecutors failed to prove the liquid laxative treatment "was motivated out of medical necessity for his well-being."

"The only logical conclusion was that the administration of laxatives was done to assist the police in recovering the suspected heroin," the appeals court ruled in granting a motion to suppress the bag of heroin eventually recovered.

Acting on a tip that someone was selling drugs out of a car, officers approached Payano-Roman in the vehicle in April 2002. As they approached, they saw Payano-Roman swallow a baggy containing a white substance, according to court records.

The officers arrested him and took him to a hospital, where he was forced to drink the laxative every half hour.

The appeals court ruled the move violated Payano-Roman's Fourth Amendment rights. Although Payano-Roman pleaded guilty in 2003 to possession of heroin and already served a short jail term, his lawyer said the drug charge will now be kept off his record.

"It's a victory for basic human rights," said Timothy Provis, Payano-Roman's court-appointed lawyer. "This was like a 13-hour ordeal. This is just not consistent with what we as a society believe is proper treatment of human beings."

Scot Ross, a spokesman for the state Department of Justice which represented prosecutors in the case, declined comment.


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