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Student forgotten in DEA holding cell gets $4.1M

SAN DIEGO — A UCSD student scooped up in a drug raid and left in a Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell for 4 1/2 days without food or water will get $4.1 million to settle his claims, his attorneys announced Tuesday.

DanielChongDaniel Chong, 25, was among seven people detained in an April 21, 2012, raid on a University City home. Chong, an student at UCSD, was handcuffed and put in 5-by-10-foot cell, by an officer who told him, “Hang tight. We’ll come get you in a minute,” his attorney Julia Yoo said.

The door to the cell was not opened again until April 25. Chong had no food water or toilet facilities during that period and he spent the last two days in darkness, Yoo said.

When he was freed, Chong was taken to a hospital for acute kidney failure, muscle degeneration and dehydration. He spent three days in intensive care and was released after five, Yoo said

Chong said Tuesday his body is healing and he expects to graduate next year.

“It was an accident — a really, really bad, horrible accident” Chong said at the offices of his attorneys, Eugene Iredale and Julia Yoo.

He said he did what he had to, including drinking his own urine. He said he kicked the door, screamed, begged and tried to get someone’s attention. He said he made repeated but futile attempts to set off a fire sprinkler system.

“I was screaming. I was completely insane,” Chong said.

In the months following his ordeal, Chong was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder from his “near death experience,” his other lawyer, Eugene Iredale, explained.

An investigation as to what went wrong is underway.  “What happened to Daniel Chong should never happen to any human being on the face of the planet,” Iredale said.

In the raid, federal agents seized about 18,000 ecstasy pills, some marijuana and some weapons.

Iredale said the government acknowledged responsibility, apologized to Chong and has created policies about handling detainees and checking on their welfare in holding cells.

The Department of Justice settled with Chong out of court, he said.

“It changed my perception quite a bit.  My life, I am just continuing my life,” Chong said when asked how the experience changed him.

Chong plans to buy his mother a new home and save the rest of the settlement money.


18 Comments to “Student forgotten in DEA holding cell gets $4.1M”

    KlauSs said:
    July 31, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    good luck Mr Chong, now you have enough money to overdose and pay for your own funeral… sooner the better.

      Andrew said:
      August 1, 2013 at 6:44 AM

      Well, someone woke up on the douchebag side of the bed today. Same back at you buddy. The sooner you're gone, the better the world will be.

    ron said:
    July 31, 2013 at 5:12 AM

    It didnt say the drugs were his, or one of the others. Besides, even if it was his drugs, the way he was treated by the Feds is inexcusable. Not only does he deserve money for the pain and suffering, those responsible need to be fired!

      Figures said:
      July 31, 2013 at 6:19 PM

      "It didn't say the drugs were his"….really…in a house with 18,000 pills, marijuana and weapons means he is an okay guy and didn't know anything about them? 18,000 pills. Shouldn't have been involved with that stuff and wouldn't have been put into that situation. Not saying its anywhere close to excusable, but seriously, don't put yourself in bad situations and bad things have a tendency not to happen to you. What about what he does to all those people who OD on the pills he was around or are intimidated or injured by the weapons he was around…didn't seem to care about those people, like he forgot. He's lucky to be un-lucky.

    Bowler's Desk San Diego News said:
    July 31, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    Reblogged this on San Diego News – Bowler's Desk and commented:
    Student forgotten in DEA holding cell gets $4.1M

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