$20M California Personal Injury Claim Filed After UCSD Student is Left Handcuffed with No Food or Water for Five Days in a DEA Detention Cell

December 31, 1969

California lawmakers are calling on the US Department of Justice to investigate how a 23-year-old UCSD student was accidentally left handcuffed and unattended in a Drug Enforcement Administration detention cell for five days without water or food or access to a toilet. Daniel Chong, who had to drink his own urine to stay alive, spent three days in the ICU after he was released. Chong was near kidney failure and having problems breathing by the time. Now, his attorney has filed a $20 million California personal injury claim over the violation of his civil rights and the harm that he suffered while in custody.

Chong was detained during a raid of a suspected Ecstasy distribution ring. Nine suspects, including the UCSD student, were taken to a DEA headquarters.

Chong, who was released after agents questioned him and decided not to file any criminal charges, was told he could go home. That is when the the DEA "accidentally" left him in a cell and he wasn't found until five days later-- an entire weekend and three business days.

Chong told NBC San Diego that he felt like he was going crazy and that he experienced hallucinations. He kicked at the door numerous times to get the agents' attention but to no avail even though he could hear people nearby. He even broke his glasses and tried to use it to cut his wrist and kill himself. Nurses later found glass particles in his throat. Chong described the cell as an area of space where there wasn't enough room for him to be able to spread his arms wide. The DEA has apologized to him.

Now, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is seeking a congressional probe. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) wants US Attorney Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to make sure that the DOJ looks into the incident right away.

"Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials are responsible for making sure that anyone in their custody doesn't suffer unnecessary harm," said Anaheim personal injury lawyer Vincent Howard. "Failure to uphold this duty is a violation of the person's civil rights and can be grounds for a California personal injury case if injuries, illness, or death results."

Even if you have been detained, arrested, charged, or convicted for a crime you still have certain rights. This includes making sure that you are given food and water when detained for extended periods of time. You also cannot be held without cause. Also, it is illegal for law enforcement officers to use excessive and/or unnecessary force of any kind on you.

Student forgotten in cell for 5 days will sue DEA, CNN, May 3, 2012

DEA Ignored All My Cries, Said Student, NBC San Diego, May 3, 2012

UCSD student's 5-day ordeal in DEA jail sparks outrage, anger, Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2012



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Huntington Beach Police Brutality Lawsuit Alleges Inappropriate Touching, Unlawful Arrest, and Excessive Use of Force, California Injury Lawyers, March 23, 2012

In Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County, Anaheim injury personal injury lawyer Vincent Howard represents clients that have suffered harm because of police negligence.

To schedule your free case evaluation, contact Anaheim personal injury attorney Vincent Howard at Howard Law, PC today.