An appeals court overturned the conviction of an Oregon man who was arrested on drug charges after police pried apart his buttocks and found cocaine.
Herbert Lee Scruggs Jr. was arrested in November 2011 after police spotted him meeting two suspected drug buyers in Portland’s “Crack Alley,” reported The Oregonian.
Officers said Scruggs, now 33, pulled something from his pants and then hand it over in exchange for money with at least two people, and police took him into custody.
They brought Scruggs to a nearby police station and ordered him to remove his clothes, and one officer told him to bend over and cough.
An officer became suspicious after Scruggs partially bent over and only “halfheartedly” grabbed his buttocks, so three officers forced him to bend over and Officer Matt Wells spread the suspects cheeks apart.
Police found a bag of cocaine “pressed against, but not inside, defendant’s anus,” court records show.
A Multnomah County Circuit judge found four months later that the search had been a “deep intrusion” of Scruggs’ privacy but ruled the cocaine could still be used as evidence because it would have eventually been found during a strip search at the county jail.
Scruggs was eventually found guilty and has already served all three years of his sentence — but the appeals court overturned the conviction, saying prosecutors failed to support their argument.
A jail sergeant testified that inmates may be detained in a special cell or sent to a hospital if they do not cooperate in a strip search and officers believe they are hiding contraband.
But the sergeant cited the wrong policy number for jail procedures, and prosecutors never entered the corrected policy number into the court record — so the conviction was tossed.