by Alice Monroe
The U.S. government paid out more than $4 million in compensation to a student who was abandoned by police for five days in a prison cell without food or water
SAN DIEGO, CA -- Daniel Chong, a now 25-year-old college student in the southern Californian city of San Diego has won $4.1 million in compensation after he nearly died in a police cell last year.
In April 2012, Chong was swept up by Drug Enforcement Administration agents during a drug raid on a friend's off-campus house. After a brief interview he was locked in a windowless holding cell 5x10 foot in size, with his hands cuffed behind his back, after being told that he would be released shortly wihout charge.
However, the DEA agents forgot about Chong and nobody returned to his cell for four-and-a-half days, leaving him without food or water. He said he tried to do everything possible to get attention - but without success. He started hallucinating on the third day.
"I didn't just sit there quietly. I was kicking the door yelling," he was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.
"I even put some shoestrings, shoelaces through the crack of the door for visual signs. I didn't stay still, no, I was screaming."
At one point, Chong admitted, he thought he was going to die. He broke his eyeglasses by biting into them and tried to carve a "Sorry Mom" farewell message. He managed to finish an "S".
By the time he was discovered in the cell, Chong was severely dehydrated, hallucinating, incoherent and suicidal. He was hospitalized for five days with kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus.
"This was a mistake of unbelievable and unimaginable proportions," his attorney Julia Yoo told CNN reporters.
She confirmed that, as a result of the incident, the DEA had introduced new procedures including checking all cells daily and installing CCTV cameras inside them.