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.
It had to have been an accident. Otherwise, it was attempted murder, pure and simple.
Actually a man in good health will not die in 5 days.
I believe they knew where he was. I cannot imagine a cell block in this day and age that is not under camera surveilance or someone does not visit it for that stretch of time.
You simply don't get it. This has nothing to do with 'druggies,' and everything to do with a horrendous abuse of power by Federal (and local) government officials.
I don't care if it was intentional or if the people involved were simply incompetent - locking someone away for four days without food, water, or toilet facilities is not someting we can tolerate from the government. Every American should care about that. Certainly every Freeper should care about this - locking someone away without food, water or toilet facilities is about as far from the principles of freedom and limited government as you can get.
My only issue with this is that he is not able to personally sue the individuals involved and have the thugs with badges loose their pensions.
Did the DEA place the powdery material in his cell for him to ingest...gives a positive test....mitigates against him being a good guy. The DEA seems to be one big clusterf... after another. Chong should own the DEA after this. They are out of control.
I suppose the next thing to ask is how many like him came before? How many went, not 4 days, but 7 or 8 or l0? If they are that forgetful should they be allowed to keep the keys to the cell? Who is checking on these people each day? Where are those records kept? Has the DEA ever opened up the door to find only a skeleton? Do they feed prisoners? Do they check if prisoners committed suicide (more common than you might think)? Do they forget about diabetics or heart patients who need medicine, perhaps several times a day.
I am reminded of Hildabeast when asked about finding the lost Rose Law Firms records...her reply...."Coulda, woulda, shoulda,...lets move on."
They forgot,...my ass.
“Why I don’t feel outraged?”
I guess because your government torturing its citizens on your behalf is not outrageous to you? Or maybe not outrageous, so long as they are citizens that you deem less worthy of constitutional protections than others?
“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.”
Sorry, but 4 days without food and water IS torture.
Since Bush signed the same law first, due process was lost at that time, thus it was already a thing of the past when Obama renewed the law.
“If you want to end the war on drugs and cut the statist war on drugs off at the knees, stop doing drugs.
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.”
You admit two sentences later that drug abuse is pretty much constant, no matter what we do. Obviously, if people will never “stop doing drugs”, then your solution to the statist drug war is a utopian fantasy. It’s no saner than when lefties state that Communism will work great, if we just try it one more time.
Perhaps you missed the part about kidney failure. The 20 year old will be on dialysis for the rest of his shortened life.
Yup. Hooked up to a machine 7-8 hours a day 3-4 days a week for the rest of his life. And some in here consider that fair punishment for his crime,,,a crime he was never charged with in the first place. The ones who think what they did to him is no big deal are the sort of folks that would have been happy running a gulag in the USSR.
I would not argue too much with that if there was permanent bodily injury.
I will go away as when one argues with a fool, others will not know the difference.
Yes, PLEASE just go away!