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 though, make a better story in my own mind.
You must lead a rough life; In my world, being deprived of food and water for four days is certainly torture, and being forced to drink your own urine is certainly denigrating. And I have been on both ends of military survival training, so I think I can speak from personal experience.
Alright fine. You are a lost cause, a statist bastard who enables the Police State. You view certain people as Non-People.
I view people who support the police state, and have no limits to what the government can do to us, as Non-People.
What is wrong with you? STOP DIGGING.
You are why so many of the unwashed mistrust conservatives.
....says the idjit who thinks the government destroying a man's kidneys, without arrest or conviction even, is perfectly okay.
Psychotic, Heal Theyself.
>> There are posts on this thread that aren’t rational and I assume the posters ARE hydrated <<
Hey, now maybe I understand why a few dozen “ABR” FReepers are pumping so hard to re-elect Øbama: They probably are dehydrated!
>> everyone involved in this needs to be fired <<
Agreed, but only after they have been locked in the same cell w/o food, water, light and a toilet for four days each.
You don’t feel outraged because the constitution as written obviously means little to nothing to you...
I am not outraged by Obummer smoking pot. I am outraged by Obama questionable birth, and by his policies.
You evidently are ignorant of due process. We do not imprison and starve/dehydrate without a trial. We treat POW’s better than that.
The responsible parties to this atrocity should be in jail and sued personally in civil court. Fired is not enough. They should be charged with criminal negligence.
A portion of the United States government has been a continuing criminal enterprise from the very beginning. The war on drugs is simply a continuation of that tradition.
It's been a hundred years since the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act, and drug abuse rate is the same now as it was then.
I accept the reality that nothing ever changes when it comes to corruption, government or otherwise. Just the names and faces.
You have a narrative you want to follow, and nothing else matters.
I’ve taken part of it back. When he goes to jail cuz he has a gun they don’t like, I will cheer, send him taunting letters in prison, and celebrate that another Statist, Constitution-hating bastard got theirs.
>> So when the case gets to the Supreme Court the defence will be lead by Eric Holder? <<
No, by then our buddy Eric will either be:
(a) Prisoner no. 101-234567-89, having been found guilty and imprisoned for contempt of congress, conspiracy to violate federal firearms laws, obstruction of justice and misprison of numerous other felonies; or
(b) Justice Holder, appointed to the SCOTUS by second-term POTUS B. H. Øbama.
Isn't Irony IronicTM?
I'm in agreement that the start of Statism is when the war on drugs ramped up under Reagan. I'm against the WoD.
But if you are going to care about that, WTF is wrong with you that you don't even give a crap about due process or excessive punishment (and in this case, even without a conviction or even an arrest)?
You are all over the map. Are you okay?
Yer not high on crack again, are you?
Oh, c’mon Laz.... tell me how you really feel... :)
Someone had to have known he was in there in the conditions he was left in.
Yup. It’s a stretch to think they couldn’t hear him screaming for help. Sounds more like they left him there without food or water on purpose. Attempted murder?
So, if you were to be locked up in the future and “forgotten” about because you owned an “illegal” (in the eyes of an unconstitutional law, not the Constitution) firearm or had gotten into a minor altercation, would that be acceptable to you?
After all, you’ve already established that you do think it acceptable for a government body to lock up and “forget” about a citizen for several days without due process. Surely you wouldn’t object if it were you.
I am not condoning what was done to him. He deserves money and the DEA personnel responsible deserve to be punished. 20 million is not nearly enough. Maybe 50 million? How about 100 million?
As a matter of fact, the head of the DEA should resign and there should be a congressional investigation of Eric Holder since this all rolls up under his juristiction.