Student left in DEA cell to receive $4 million from US

(AP)

SAN DIEGO (AP) The Justice Department has agreed to pay $4.1 million to a California college student left in a Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell last year, according to two people familiar with the case.

Daniel Chong was detained in an April 2012 drug raid in San Diego and left in a windowless holding cell for four days without food or water. He says he drank his own urine to stay alive.

The people familiar with the case spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the settlement before it is officially announced.

Chong and eight others were taken into custody at a house where DEA agents say they found 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons. His attorney filed a $20 million claim against the government last year.

Daniel Chong was a 23-year-old engineering student when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration left him in a windowless cell for four days without food or water. He says he drank his own urine to stay alive and tried to write a farewell message to his mother with his own blood.

Chong’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, said he will announce “an important development” Tuesday, little more than a year after filing a $20 million claim against the federal government. He declined to elaborate.

A DEA spokesman, Rusty Payne, referred questions Monday to the Justice Department, which handled settlement negotiations. A call to the Justice Department’s public affairs office was not returned.

Chong, who was attending University of California, San Diego, was at a friend’s house in April 2012 when a DEA raid netted 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons. Chong and eight others were taken into custody.

Agents told Chong he would not be charged and had him wait in the 5-by-10-foot cell at DEA offices in San Diego. The door did not reopen for four days, when agents found him severely dehydrated and covered in his own feces.

Chong said he began to hallucinate on the third day. He urinated on a metal bench to drink his urine. He stacked a blanket, his pants and shoes on the bench and tried to reach an overhead fire sprinkler, futilely swatting at it with his cuffed hands to set it off.

Chong said last year that he gave up and accepted death. He bit into his eyeglasses to break them. He said he used a shard of glass to carve “Sorry Mom” onto his arm so he could leave something for her. He managed to finish an “S.”

Chong was hospitalized five days for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. He lost 15 pounds.

The DEA issued a rare public apology at the time.
(Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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