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Feds being sued for $20 million after DEA agents lock man in holding cell for four days and forget he's there

May 3, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
Drug Enforcement Agency personnel locked a 23-year-old college student in a holding cell in San Diego last month and forgot him for four days. When they opened the door, by chance, they found Daniel Chong covered in his own feces. He had been handcuffed for the entire time.

Chong spent five days in the hospital, where he was treated for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. Chong is now suing the federal government for up to $20 million.

The debacle began when Chong went to a friend's house, reportedly to get high. Authorities raided the house and found 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons. Nine people, including Chong, were arrested. Authorities told Chong they weren't going to charge him and to sit tight in the holding cell while they finished up the paperwork to release him. It was at that point they forgot he was there and that he was left without food, water or, apparently, adequate toilet facilities.

Not surprisingly, Chong lost his mind as well as deteriorated physically. He yelled and screamed and kicked the door to no avail. According to an AP article, he broke his eyeglasses and contemplated using the glass shards to slit his wrists and kill himself. When an agent, by chance, finally opened the door and found Chong, he reportedly said, "Where'd you come from?"

According to the AP, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter said in a letter sent Thursday to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart that Chong's treatment "raises concerns about the agency's handling and monitoring of individuals in custody."

Ya think? I don't condone Chong's drug use or his choice of friends, but what he did didn't merit this kind of torture or a death sentence. The San Diego DEA sound a whole lot like Keystone Kops to me. The agency better get its house in order, pronto.

 
 

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