The government agreed to pay Daniel Chong, a UC San Diego engineering student, $4.1 million in advance of a $20-million dollar lawsuit.
Last April, DEA agents detained Chong as part of a raid conducted on an apartment off campus. Chong went to the apartment to smoke pot with some friends but was interrupted by the raid. He was taken to the DEA facility in San Diego and questioned. After that, things took a bizarre and terrifying turn.
Somehow agents forgot about Chong and left him in a 5-by-10-foot room for five hellish days.
The holding room Chong found himself trapped in had no windows and no toilet. And for the next five days he was deprived of food, water, and any human contact.
According to Chong, DEA employees could be heard in the vicinity but no one answered his pleas for help. “They never came back, ignored all my cries and I still don’t know what happened … I’m not sure how they could forget me.”
Chong was forced to drink his own urine to survive. He suffered hallucinations and, at one point, broke his own glasses and carved what he thought would be his final words into his arm: “Sorry mom.”
When agents found the student five days later he was “covered in his own feces and severely dehydrated.” Chong spent another five days in the hospital and nearly died of kidney failure. To this day he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder related to the event.
Here’s what supervising agent William Sherman had to say about the ordeal:
“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.”
Hopefully the $4.1 million settlement will help ease Chong’s pain.
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