Attorneys for a 25 year-old UCSD student said the DEA has agreed to cut them a $4.1 million settlement check.
Daniel Chong was reportedly taken into custody on April 20, 2012 after he went to an off campus apartment to smoke pot with some friends. What he didn’t know was that the residence had been under surveillance, and 4-20 was the day they intended to raid it.
More than 18,000 tablets of ecstasy, weapons and other drugs were confiscated. Chong maintained he had just popped in to smoke a friendly bowl.
Everyone was arrested and taken to the local DEA headquarters. A San Diego Police Department Officer who had been granted permission to participate in the DEA task force raid placed Chong into a 5 foot by 10 foot holding cell. He told the student the agency wasn’t going to charge him, and someone would be back in a minute to take him home.
The officer did not remove the suspect’s hand cuffs.
It wasn’t until several hours later that Chong realized something was seriously wrong. Although no one is entirely sure how it happened, the agency forgot he was there. The student spent more than 96 hours in the dark cell and was not once given anything to eat or drink.
Things eventually became so dire, he said, that he was forced to drink his own urine. Chong began to hallucinate on the third day. At one point he became suicidal.
Agents found him 4.5 days later after he was detained, on the floor, covered in his own feces. He spent five days in the hospital where he was treated for kidney failure and severe dehydration. His attorneys said he lost approximately 15 pounds during his time at the San Diego DEA Headquarters.
The agency has issued a public apology and has since implemented policies and procedures designed to make sure this never happens again.
Chong said he believes what happened was an accident. As for what he plans to do with his settlement? He’s going to finish school and buy his parents a house.