No Charges For DEA Agents Who Held Innocent Man in Cell For 5 Days Without Food or Water
San Diego, Calif. – One would think that if a college student were jailed for five days without food or water someone would be held accountable for it. Sadly, that assumption would be wrong, as that’s exactly what happened to UC San Diego engineering student Daniel Chong, yet none of those responsible were fired or brought up on criminal charges.
Although Chong almost died from dehydration, near-kidney failure, and a perforated lung from a suicide attempt, not a single DEA agent was fired or indicted on criminal charges. The most severe punishment in the case was a short suspension, with others given a reprimand.
The incident began on the morning of April 21, 2012. After a raid on the residence of a friend whose home Chong had been smoking cannabis at, Chong and others were taken to a DEA field office and interrogated. Once determining Chong was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, the decision was made to release him without charges, going so far as to offer him a ride home, according to Nation of Change.
But what happened next is the stuff nightmares are made of, as DEA agents claim they forgot about Chong. They left him handcuffed for five days in a five-by-ten-foot holding cell without windows, food or water. To survive the five-day ordeal, Chong was forced to drink his own urine. “I had to do what I had to do to survive…I hallucinated by the third day,” Chong recalled. “I was completely insane.”
Chong said he could hear prisoners in nearby cells and DEA employees, but that his screams were in vain and never responded to. The closest thing to a response came when Chong began kicking the door in an effort to draw attention to him, in response the lights in his cell were turned off for a number of days.
During his detention, in which Chong lost 15lbs, he found a powdery white substance in a plastic bag under a blanket inside of his cell and proceeded to ingest the substance, which tests subsequently revealed to be methamphetamine.
At one point the torment became too much for Chong to take and he broke one of the lenses out of his eyeglasses and attempted to slit his wrists. When that failed he ingested shards of glass in an effort to kill himself.
When a DEA agent finally checked Chong’s holding cell on the fifth day, due to hearing strange noises, he found Chong hallucinating and incoherent. Chong was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital where he was treated for dehydration, partial kidney failure and a perforated lung from ingesting the broken glass.
Chong, after undergoing intense PTSD therapy, filed suit against the DEA, eventually settling his claim for $4.1 million in July 2013. Chong was never implicated or accused of committing a crime and the DEA claimed it had simply forgotten Chong in the cell.
While Chong may have initially been “forgotten” about, his pleas for help and the subsequent turning off of the lights in his cell seem to show that someone was aware of him and simply ignored his calls for help.
Four DEA agents were reprimanded, another was given a five-day suspension without pay, and the supervisor in charge received a seven-day suspension.
Does this sound like accountability to you?