Student Forgotten in DEA Cell Gets $4.1 Million
(WASHINGTON) -- A California college student has reached a $4.1 million settlement with the federal government after he was abandoned in a windowless Drug Enforcement Administration cell without food, water and a toilet for nearly five days.
During the four and a half days Daniel Chong, 25, spent locked in a cell in April 2012, he said he drank his own urine to survive and suffered hallucinations, believing officers were trying to kill him by pumping toxic gases into his cell, according to his attorney.
Allison Price, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, confirmed the $4.1 million settlement had been reached with Chong, but declined to comment further on the case. A message left for the DEA was not immediately returned.
"I'm pleased that the case is over, and that Daniel can move on with his life," Julia Yoo, Chong's attorney, told ABC News.
Federal agents took Chong into custody, along with five others, on April 21, 2012, following a raid on a friend's house where agents said they believed the drug Ecstasy was being dealt. An officer told Chong he would not be charged but left him cuffed in a cell and told him to "hang tight, we'll come get you in a minute," Yoo said.
Chong was able to manipulate his handcuffs to the front of his body, and throughout the four and a half days, Yoo said he tried everything from kicking and screaming to trying to set off a fire sprinkler.
For two days before he was found, Chong said the lights in his cell were turned off and he started seeing and smelling what he believed at the time were toxic gases, and that "they" were trying to kill him, Yoo told ABC News.
On April 25, Chong recalled an officer opening the door and asking, "Who are you?" his attorney told ABC News.
Chong was taken by ambulance to Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he spent five days, three of them in intensive care, suffering from severe dehydration and kidney failure. Yoo said Chong was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
A week after the ordeal, the DEA apologized to Chong and announced it had launched an investigation into what happened.
"I am deeply troubled by the incident that occurred here last week," William R. Sherman, the acting special agent in charge of the DEA office in San Diego, said at the time. "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."
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