Please Hand Over the Bullet Lodged in Your Forehead

This is quite bizzare. Police have issued a search warrant for a bullet lodged in Joshua Bush’s forehead. Friends of Bush, an alleged member of a Texas gang, have said he was involved in a robbery and shootout at a used-car lot in July. The owner of the used-car lot was shot at and returned fire in the dark, but wasn’t sure if he hit anyone.

In interviewing people about the robbery (which occurred before the shootout, a seperate event) police learned that Bush had been involved in the robbery. Bush has admitted to his involvement in the robbery, but denies being the shooter. The police can’t prove he was involved until they retrieve the bullet from his forehead. They obtained the search warrant and were ready for a local hospital to remove it, but the hospital backed out at the last minute (probably due to the ethical & legal concerns).

But seriously, this is a fascinating case. I have to say that as messed up as this particular case is, I think the doctors are right in not removing the bullet under a search warrant. That would set an incredibly creepy legal standard, setting the stage for branches of the government to order medical procedures to obtain evidence in court hearings. The medical profession (rightly) wants to maintain some semblance of aloofness so that it doesn’t become another ‘arm of the government’ (similar to the way that many doctors refuse to sign death certificates for executions).

If the bullet had already been removed, the police could have gotten it faily easily. Ironically, by issuing the search warrant and pushing the recovery surgery along, the police may have made it harder to get their evidence.

“The officers noticed the guy looks like hell. One of his eyes is black and he has a big old knot on his forehead,” Rodriguez said. “He tells police he got hurt playing basketball.”

A few days later, Bush went to the hospital and told doctors he had been hit by a stray bullet as he sat on a couch in an apartment.

“Officers started putting events together,” Rodriguez said….

Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, predicted Bush’s rights as a patient will trump the state’s desire to get the bullet, and said authorities might have a hard time finding someone willing to extract the slug.

“It truly is a moral quandary,” Caplan said. “Doctors are caught between wanting to help solve crimes and their responsibility to patients’ rights to refuse a procedure.”

One Response to Please Hand Over the Bullet Lodged in Your Forehead

  1. reportcard says:

    It would be a scary world if government could pull evidence out of a persons body using a warrant. I’ll bet Roe v. Wade is used in the leagal arguments made in the case, attempting to extend the precedent to those who want to keep things in their bodies. It will be interesting to see which special interest groups swoop in and take sides on this one.

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