Student Abandoned in Tiny Government Cell to Receive $4.1 Million

Daniel Chong was trapped for five days without a window, food, water, toilet, or any contact. He is still being treated for posttraumatic stress disorder.

By Aura Bogado Jul 30, 2013

The UC San Diego student who was picked up in a bust last year and left stranded in a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) holding cell is about to get paid. Daniel Chong, now 25, was questioned and then told he was free to go after government agents raided a friend’s home that Chong was visiting. They never filed any charges against him. But instead of setting him free, authorities placed him in a 5′ x 10′ cell (that’s about the size of a small trailer), with no windows, no food, no water and no toilet facilities. He would spend five days there before being taken to a hospital to recover. Chong then spent three days in intensive care at Sharp Memorial Hospital, healing from failing kidneys, a punctured lung, and dehydration. 

As is common for anyone being held in solitary confinement, Chong began hallucinating, and says he was forced to drink his own urine. Thinking death was imminent, he began chewing on his own eyeglasses in order to break them and scrawl a final message to his mother with broken glass on his arm. He lost four pounds in almost as many days. Chong says he screamed for help to no avail–although he could clearly hear agents just outside the cell where he was being held. The DEA issued a rare apology after his release. 

The student subsequently filed a $20 million lawsuit against the DEA. According to NBC7 San Diego, Chong’s attorney announced a settlement today at just more than $4 million. Chong continues to be treated for posttraumatic stress disorder.