Student Left in DEA Cell for Days to Get $4.1M

by Ryan Hauck | July 31, 2013 11:27 am

A 25-year-old San Diego student who was left in holding cell for five days after a Drug Enforcement Agency raid and survived by drinking his own urine will recoup $4.1 million in damages from the Justice Department, CNN reports[1].

Daniel Chong says he was visiting a friend when DEA agents stormed the friend’s house last year. The raid turned up 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, psilocybin, prescription drugs, and an arsenal of guns and ammunition. Agents detained Chong but never formally arrested or charged him and Chong denies any knowledge of the drugs or weapons.

The next five days were nightmarish for Chong. Thrown in a 5 ft. by 10 ft. cell and forgotten, Chong says he started hallucinating after three days, collected urine to quench his thirst, and tried to carve his last message – “Sorry Mom” – into his arm with a shard of his glasses lens.

On the fifth day, DEA agents finally found him where they left him, but by that point Chong was 15 pounds lighter and covered in his own feces. Chong spent another five days in the hospital recovering from severe dehydration and kidney failure. He now claims to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and originally sued the government for $20 million, a suit the Justice Department settled with the aforementioned pay-out.

After his recovery, Chong returned to the University of California – San Diego where he is studying economics. The DEA, which issued an apology at the time of the incident, now mandates that agents check on the well-being of detainees at least once a day as a result of Chong’s ordeal.

Endnotes:
  1. CNN reports: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/30/justice/california-dea-settlement/index.html

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