SAN DIEGO (AP) — A 25-year old college student has reached a $4.1 million settlement with the federal government after he was abandoned in a windowless Drug Enforcement Administration cell for more than four days without food or water, his attorneys said Tuesday.
The DEA introduced national detention standards as a result of the ordeal involving Daniel Chong, including daily inspections and a requirement for cameras in cells, said Julia Yoo, one of his lawyers.
Chong said he drank his own urine to stay alive, hallucinated that agents were trying to poison him with gases through the vents, and tried to carve a farewell message to his mother in his arm.
It remained unclear how the situation occurred, and no one has been disciplined, said Eugene Iredale, another attorney for Chong. The Justice Department's inspector general is investigating.
"It sounded like it was an accident — a really, really bad, horrible accident," Chong said.
Chong was taken into custody during a drug raid and placed in the cell in April 2012 by a San Diego police officer authorized to perform DEA work on a task force. The officer told Chong he would not be charged and said, "Hang tight, we'll come get you in a minute," Iredale said.
The door to the 5-by-10-foot cell did not reopen for 4 1/2 days.
Justice Department spokeswoman Allison Price confirmed the settlement was reached for $4.1 million but declined to answer other questions. The DEA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since attorney fees are capped at 20 percent of damages and the settlement payment is tax-free, Chong will collect at least $3.2 million, Iredale said