Feds abandon detained student for days
A SoCal college student was locked in a 5-by-10-foot windowless cell after being arrested and forgotten about by DEA agents for four days.
UC San Diego engineering senior Daniel Chong was never arrested, never charged, and never should have been there in the first place.
Chong, 24, went to a friend’s house on Friday, April 20. Yes, 4-20. He smoked some pot and fell asleep until around 9 a.m. the next morning when DEA agents raided the house.
The Feds found 18,000 ecstasy pills plus other drugs and weapons, and took Chong and eight others into custody.
After four hours of questioning, Chong was told he’d be let go, according to his lawyer, Eugene Iredale. Instead, he got locked up and forgotten about for four days, with no food, water, light or access to a toilet.
Iredale says Chong drank his own urine to survive. Chong may have tried to commit suicide, says Iredale, after breaking his eyeglasses and using a broken piece to try and scratch “Sorry Mom” into his arm. He stopped after the “S,” but also managed to ingest a glass shard.
He continued to sit there in darkness, bleeding, malnourished, with an esophagus perforated by glass until the door finally opened on April 25.
Iredale said Chong might not have been able to last much longer in that kind of confinement:
“He nearly died. If he had been there another 12 to 24 hours, he probably would have died.”
Chong spent three days in intensive care and five at the hospital before leaving Sunday. He intends to seek damages from the DEA, according to Iredale, and may file a lawsuit against the government.
The top DEA agent in San Diego, William R. Sherman, promised an investigation Wednesday. He added:
“I extend my deepest apologies (to) the young man.”
Thomas Beauclair, deputy director of the National Corrections Institute told The AP in his 40-year career, he has heard of people being forgotten overnight, but never for several days:
“That is pretty much unheard of.”