Student Daniel Chong, Left In DEA Holding Cell Without Food, Water, Gets $4.1 Mil In Settlement

4:39 PM, Jul 30, 2013   |    comments
Daniel Chong, (Photo: CBS News)
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San Diego-- The Justice Department will pay $4.1 million to a California college student left in a Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell for four days without food or water last year, the student's attorney announced on Tuesday.

Daniel Chong, 23, was detained in an April 2012 drug raid in San Diego and left in the 5-by-10-foot windowless holding cell. He said he drank his own urine to stay alive and tried to write a farewell message to his mother with his own blood.

Chong's attorney, Eugene Iredale, announced the settlement at a press conference Tuesday. He said that no one has yet been disciplined for the 2012 incident, and no criminal charges will be filed.

"Due to Daniel's unfortunate experience, and the responsiveness and acceptance of responsibility by the federal government, it is his hope that what occurred to him will never happen again," Iredale said.

Chong, who was an engineering student at University of California, San Diego, was at a friend's house in April 2012 when a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raid netted 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons. Chong and eight others were taken into custody.

Agents told Chong he would not be charged and had him wait in the cell at DEA offices in San Diego. The door did not reopen for four days, when agents found him severely dehydrated and covered in his own feces.

Chong said he began to hallucinate on the third day. He urinated on a metal bench to drink his urine. He stacked a blanket, his pants and shoes on the bench and tried to reach an overhead fire sprinkler, futilely swatting at it with his cuffed hands to set it off.

Chong said last year that he gave up and accepted death. He bit into his eyeglasses to break them. He said he used a shard of glass to carve "Sorry Mom" onto his arm so he could leave something for her. He managed to finish an "S."

Chong was hospitalized for five days for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. He lost 15 pounds. The DEA issued a rare public apology at the time.

Chong's attorneys said the DEA had no policy on the treatment of detainees at the time. It does now, and that policy includes cameras in cells and daily inspections.

Last year, Chong's attorney filed a $20 million claim against the federal government.

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