Skip to comments.College student locked away, forgotten in DEA holding cell for four days, no food, water or toilet
Posted on 05/03/2012 5:06:17 AM PDT by Shane
SAN DIEGO A California engineering student says he was left alone in a federal holding cell for four days with no food or water, apparently forgotten by the federal drug agents who detained him.
Daniel Chong, a senior at the University of California at San Diego, said he was swept up in a Drug Enforcement Administration raid near campus and was taken to a detention facility. After questioning, he was told he would be released.
Then the DEA left him locked inside a 5-by-10-foot windowless cell.
He screamed. He kicked madly at the door. He cried like a baby.
Soon, nothing made sense, said Chong, 23. He could hear agents chatting among themselves on the other side of the heavy door and other detainees coming and going from holding tanks nearby.
Days crawled by. No food. No water. No bathroom. He remembers biting his eyeglasses and using the broken shards to scrawl a note onto his left arm.
"Sorry Mom," he tried to write. He stopped after the "S,'' too weak to continue.
On Wednesday, the top federal drug agent in San Diego issued an apology.
"I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week," the statement said, without mentioning Chong by name. "I extend my deepest apologies to the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to. I have personally ordered an extensive review of our policies and procedures," said the statement attributed to William R. Sherman, acting special agent in charge.
The DEA acknowledged Monday that agents had left someone in a cell after a raid on April 21 until they found him and had to call paramedics. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said that medical call came on April 25.
At the raid, DEA officials said, they apprehended nine suspects and netted 18,000 ecstasy pills, three weapons and other drugs.
"Seven suspects were brought to county detention after processing, one was released and the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells," spokeswoman Amy Roderick said.
Chong told the Associated Press the ordeal began hours after he went to some friends' house on April 20 to get high. Early the next morning, drug agents executing a search warrant burst through the door and eventually took nine people into custody.
Chong said he was handcuffed and left in a holding cell for about four hours. He was then moved to an interview room, where he was told he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and would be released shortly. One agent even promised to drive him home.
He was returned to a holding cell to await his release. The door swung closed sometime April 21 and didn't open again until April 25. Chong said he was in one of the middle cells, with no toilet, no water.
He said he urinated on the cell's only furniture a metal bench to be able to drink the fluid. He stacked a blanket, his pants and shoes on top of the bench to try to climb up and trigger a fire sprinkler on the ceiling, but failed.
The lights went out at one point and stayed off for several days, he said. All the while, Chong said, he could hear occasional footsteps and doors opening and closing, even from the cell next door.
He tried everything he could think of to get someone's attention. He lay on the floor and squinted through a tiny crack beneath the door. He could see shadows and hear muffled voices. No one came.
"It's impossible to describe hallucinations like these," he said. "I was completely insane."
In utter confusion, Chong said, he ate some of the broken glass he had used to slice his arm. He also ingested a white powdery substance the DEA said had been left in the cell inadvertently.
Suddenly, the door swung open. Chong, badly dehydrated, cramped and likely hours from death, said it took him some time to realize he was being saved.
San Diego Fire-Rescue said paramedics were summoned to the center to transport a patient who was suspected of ingesting a white powder substance. The DEA said the substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
Chong was rushed to a nearby hospital where he spent five more days recovering from problems including kidney failure, dehydration and a perforated esophagus that was the result of swallowing the broken glass.
He was not charged with any crimes. In the statement Monday, the DEA defended the raid and said the unidentified suspect was at the house to use drugs. Chong admitted smoking marijuana but said he did not know of ecstasy or weapons at the home.
Chong's attorneys filed a $20 million claim against the DEA on Wednesday, saying his treatment constitutes torture under U.S. and international law.
The five-page notice, a precursor to a lawsuit, cites damages for pain and suffering, future medical and psychiatric treatment and loss of future earnings.
"He nearly died," said Chong's lawyer, Eugene Iredale. "If he had been there another 12 to 24 hours, he probably would have died."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
I CAN'T READ - Harry Nilsson
No, I can't read this damned book
No matter how hard I squint and look
And I'll never find out how the story goes
My eyes used to be so good
But now my prespeopia shows
Yes, it shows
I can't read cuz my eyes are so damned bad
I can't read, I can't read a damned thing
I can't read no matter how much light
I can't read, I can't read any more
“Why I don’t feel outraged?”
1.You’re a cop?
2. It wasn’t your family.
3. You don’t believe in the Constitution?
4. Don’t think it could happen to you, see 1.
5. Haven’t been reading about the Secret Service so you think the Feds hire top quality people.
6. Never talked to a former DEA agent?
$1000? They tortured him for four days and nearly killed the guy! Now, he’s been introduced to meth by the DEA and surely will have psychological problems for years. I think that figure is a bit low.
People are sure giving you some hell. I know you better than that, so I was polite. But yeah you blew this one. :)
>If ever there was an example of cruel and unusual punishment this is it.<
Well said. The posters that are chiming in with comments that this college student “deserved” this treatment better remember that if a government agency can treat some kid who smoked pot like this and get away with it, they sure can get away with treating anyone for any reason the same way.
There need to be more than a few firings over this incident.
We’ll be seeing more of this in the days to come.
“I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week,” the statement said, without mentioning Chong by name. “I extend my deepest apologies to the young man and want to express that this event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to.
Wow. His kidneys have been destroyed and thats the best they can do.
I can’t help but think that if this kid was African American how this would have made world-wide news and everyone involved would have already been fired and had their heads chopped off by Sharpton’s minons. But he is not so it may last 2 weeks in the news cycle.
I am not a fan of the DEA, nor am I sympathetic to a druggie getting caught. While 4 days in a cell without water, food or toilet is excessive, this is a healthy 23 year old and he was not beaten, tortured or denigrated in any way by his captors.
No water to the point where his kidneys are destroyed? Thats not torture? Where the hell do people like you come from?
How in the world did the meth get there? And how did all of a sudden they ‘realize’ that he ingested it unless they were keeping an eye on him and waiting until he ingested it. Why? So he would finally test positive and all the DEA agents would be absolved?
Someone had to have known he was in there in the conditions he was left in. $20 million is a good number. And all the agents involved put on the stand to detail their participation in this abuse of an American.
Is this the start of that new policy about indefinitely detaining Americans determined to be a threat and not even having to file charges against them that BO so desperately wanted?
Yet despite the blood of an American and hundreds of Mexicans on his hands, Eric Holder walks free.
The $20 Mil is punitive. Its to make sure the govt doesn’t do it again. $1,000 isn’t going to get their attention.
I’d award that kid $20 mil right now just based on what I read. We are not China yet.
I take it you're a pothead too?
We get outraged because we have photos of Ubama smoking pot, but we don't get outraged about other people smoking pot.
Which way do we want it?
Or do we want it both ways, just like the Lefties?
There is no limit on punitive damages in such a case. If it’s only $20M the government will be lucky.
We just can't lock them in a room with no water for four days, permanently damaging their kidneys.
You understand now. You're welcome.
Because someone doesn't agree with you DOES NOT MEAN THEY DO DRUGS.
It does not pay.
They will screw you over first chance they get.
They can do whatever they want. They will get no interference from me in any way whatsoever. Or support.
How can any award be punative to the gov’t? It will not be paid with their dollars...the dollars are yours and mine.