San Diego college student left in cell without food-water-bathroom for 5 days www.privateofficer.com
San Diego CA May 3 2012 An engineering student stepped forward with his lawyer Tuesday to say he was left alone in a federal holding cell for five days with no food or water, apparently forgotten by the federal drug agents who detained him.
Daniel Chong, 24, a UC San Diego senior, said he was swept up in a Drug Enforcement Administration raid near campus and was taken to the Kearny Mesa facility. After questioning, he was told he would be released.
Then the DEA left him locked inside a five-by-10-foot windowless cell.
He screamed. He kicked madly at the door. He cried like a baby.
Soon, Chong said, nothing made sense. He could hear agents chatting among themselves on the other side of the heavy door, and other detainees coming and going from holding tanks nearby.
Days crawled by. No food. No water. No bathroom. He remembers biting his eyeglasses and using the broken shards to scrawl a note onto his left arm.
“Sorry Mom,” he tried to write.
The DEA acknowledged, in a statement to The Watchdog on Monday, that agents left someone in a cell after a raid on April 21 — until they found him and had to call paramedics. San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said that medical call came on April 25.
At the raid, DEA officials said, they apprehended nine suspects and netted 18,000 ecstasy pills, three weapons and other drugs.
“Seven suspects were brought to county detention after processing, one was released and the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells,” spokeswoman Amy Roderick said.
Federal agents declined to respond to follow-up questions on Monday and no clarification was provided Tuesday.
Their statement did not address how long the detainee was left alone, but San Diego Fire-Rescue said paramedics were summoned to the Viewridge Avenue administrative center at 4:42 p.m. Wednesday to transport a patient who was suspected of ingesting a white powder substance. The DEA said the substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
Chong said the ordeal began hours after he went to some friends’ house on Friday night, April 20, to celebrate.
Early the next morning, drug agents executing a search warrant at the University City residence burst through the door, and eventually took nine people into custody.
At the DEA field office in Kearny Mesa, Chong said, he was handcuffed and left in a holding cell for about four hours. He was then moved to an interview room, where he was told he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and would be released shortly. One agent even promised to drive him home.
He was then returned to a holding cell to await his release. The door swung closed sometime Saturday and didn’t open again until Wednesday. Chong said he was in one of the middle cells, with no toilet, no water.
“I had to recycle my own urine,” he said. “I had to do what I had to do to survive.”
He tried everything he could think of to get someone’s attention. He laid on the floor and squinted through a tiny crack beneath the door. He could see shadows and hear muffled voices, Chong said. But no one came.
“It’s impossible to describe hallucinations like these,” he said. “I was completely insane.”
In utter confusion, Chong said he ate some of the broken glass he’d used to slice his arm. He also ingested a white powdery substance the DEA said had been left in the cell inadvertently.
Suddenly, the door swung open. Badly dehydrated, cramped and likely hours from death, Chong said it took him some time to realize he was being saved.
“When they opened the door, one of them said ‘Here’s the water you’ve been asking for,’” he said. “But I was pretty out of it at the time.”
Chong was rushed to the nearby Sharp hospital, where he spent five more days recovering from problems including a perforated lung that was the result of eating broken glass.
He singled out the nursing staff, many of them by first name.
“They really took care of me,” said Chong, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos. “My nurses were there 24-seven. I can’t be more grateful.”
Chong was not charged with any crimes.
The UCSD engineering student said he missed several midterm exams last week. Attorney Eugene Iredale said he hoped university officials would allow his client time to make up the missed school work.
In the statement Monday, the DEA defended the raid and said the unidentified suspect was at the house to use drugs. Chong admitted smoking marijuana but said he did not know of ecstasy or weapons at the home.
The agency has not commented on Chong’s claim that he was without food or water or a bathroom for days — a scenario The Watchdog has been asking about since Friday. They also have not explained how methamphetamines were left in the cell with Chong.
Chong’s attorney, Eugene Iredale, said he plans to file a claim against the federal government as soon as today. He said he expected it would be denied and he would proceed with a federal lawsuit later this year.
“We still at this point don’t know whose role it was to make sure everyone was properly transported,” Iredale said. “People should be held responsible civilly and, if need be and it’s appropriate, criminally.”
Source:UT San Diego