07/26/2006

Judge: Shackling Colo. inmate for 5 days was unreasonable search

The Associated Press

DENVER- Shackling an inmate to a chair for 5 1/2 days to collect evidence that he swallowed bags of drugs constitutes an unreasonable search, a Colorado judge has ruled.

Prison officials allowed Brian Willert, 29, little sleep and only brief breaks until he passed the contraband - methamphetamine-filled balloons - but a judge ruled this month it could not be used against him because Willert had been subjected to an unreasonable search.

Willert slept only about three hours while shackled, District Judge Charles M. Barton said in his July 14 ruling. He was repeatedly searched, monitored constantly, not allowed to lie down and not checked by medical personnel, the judge said.

"Forcing a shackled inmate to sit in a chair for over five days posed, in the court's opinion, an unreasonable risk to the life and health of the inmate," Barton wrote.

The incident occurred in June 2005 after a woman told prison authorities she had transferred four balloons containing drugs into Willert's mouth when she kissed him during a visit.

Willert had been released from prison before Barton's ruling but was arrested on charges of violating bail and attempted escape after he failed to appear at the hearing where the ruling was issued. He was also accused of trying to kick open a patrol car's door.

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