A UC San Diego engineering student mistakenly locked up by federal drug officials in a holding cell for four-and-a-half days, apparently without food or water, is seeking $20 million in compensation.
Attorney Eugene Iredale sent a five-page claim notice on behalf of Daniel Chong, 23, to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's general counsel in suburban Washington, D.C., by mail on Wednesday, according to U-T San Diego.
Chong was detained for questioning along with eight other people during an April 21 raid in which agents seized guns, ammunition and various drugs, according to a DEA statement. The raid took place at an undisclosed University
City residence, U-T San Diego reported.
The suspects were taken to the DEA's San Diego-area headquarters in Kearny Mesa.
While being processed, they were moved around the five cells at the facility, according to the agency's statement.
Each suspect was questioned in separate interview rooms and frequently was moved around between rooms and cells.
“Seven suspects were brought to county (jail) after processing, one was released, and (Chong) was accidentally left in one of the cells,” the DEA statement reads.
Despite Chong's shouts and his pounding and kicking on doors and walls in the holding cell, agents failed to realize they had forgotten about him until last Wednesday, Chong told reporters. He said he had to drink his own urine to stay alive, eventually began hallucinating and at one point tried to kill himself by breaking his glasses and using glass shards to cut his wrists.
Paramedics took Chong to a hospital, where he was admitted to an intensive-care unit and kept under physicians' care for several days, he said. Medical staffers told him he had nearly died of kidney failure.
The Drug Enforcement Administration offered no explanation for how agents could have lost track of Chong and failed to hear his cries for help.
“DEA plans to thoroughly review both the events and detention procedures on April 21st and after,” according to the agency's statement.
–City News Service