A 23-year-old California college student who was left in a dark federal detention cell for five days without food, water, or a toilet has filed a claim against the US government for $20 million. According to ABC News, Daniel Chong's lawyer said his client was subjected to "torture" after DEA officers forgot he was placed in a holding cell, where he remained for nearly a week, surviving by drinking his own urine while he contemplated death.
On Wednesday, the DEA apologized and announced an investigation into the incident. William R. Sherman, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the DEA office in San Diego, said, "I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week. 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."
Daniel Chong was arrested on April 21, after a raid on a friend's house, where agents believe the drug Ecstasy was dealt. Chong was arrested with eight others. Agents found 18,000 Ecstasy pills, as well as guns and ammunition. The nine that were arrested were all taken to the DEA's office and booked. Seven were transported to the county jail, and one was released. Chong was left in a holding cell and forgotten.
Chong claims he kicked the door of the cell "many, many times," hoping to get the agent's attention. He spent five days in the hospital after agents finally discovered him. Chong was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital, suffering from severe dehydration and kidney failure. He was in intensive care for three days.
Chong said he suffered extreme psychological distress while being detained. He said, "I didn't care if I died. I was completely insane." He was released from the hospital on Sunday, and according to his lawyer, he "is recovering, but still in a weakened state. He remains badly shaken, but is recovering his mental stability as rapidly as can be expected."
Chong had spent the night of April 20th at his friend's house, celebrating 4/20. Agents raided the house the following morning. Chong claims he smoked pot, but denies any involvement in dealing drugs.
The DEA confirmed a white substance that tested positive for methamphetamine was found in Chong's cell after he was discovered. His lawyer said the drug was left in Chong's cell. The college student's lawyer said, "This is an extraordinary story of incredible and inexplicable ineptitude, needless suffering and great courage in the face of something inconceivably ugly." He feels the condition in which his client was held are tantamount to torture and the "pain he suffered goes beyond pain suffered by detainees suffered at Guantanamo or major figures who were water-boarded."