Pubdate: Thu, 01 Aug 2013
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2013 The New York Times Company
Author: Ian Lovett


LOS ANGELES - A year after Daniel Chong, a San Diego college student, 
was found hallucinating and suffering from kidney failure inside a 
Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell where he had been 
accidentally left for four days, the agency has agreed to compensate 
him for his ordeal.

The federal government has agreed to pay Mr. Chong $4.1 million, 
Julia Yoo, one of his lawyers, said this week. Mr. Chong's lawyers 
filed a legal claim seeking $20 million last year.

"It was an accident," Mr. Chong, now 25, said at a news conference 
Tuesday to announce the settlement, "a really, really bad, terrible accident."

Mr. Chong was picked up last year during a raid on his friend's 
house, where he and some friends had gathered to smoke marijuana.

Mr. Chong, a student at the University of California, San Diego, and 
the other suspects were taken to D.E.A. offices, where he was 
interviewed. Agents told Mr. Chong that he would be released, he 
said, and he was taken to a holding cell to wait for what he was told 
would be a few minutes.

Instead, he was forgotten inside the cell for four days. Without food 
or water, he drank his own urine, contemplated suicide, and tried to 
scratch a goodbye note to his mother into his arm.

When agents found him on the fifth day, he thought he might be 
minutes from death. He spent several days in a hospital intensive 
care unit, where he was treated for severe dehydration and kidney 
failure. Over the last year, his lawyers said, he has continued to 
suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"His doctor said this was one of the worst cases of stress he had 
ever seen," Eugene G. Iredale, one of Mr. Chong's lawyers, said in an 
interview on Wednesday.

The D.E.A. issued an apology shortly after Mr. Chong was found. A 
spokeswoman for the agency on Wednesday refused to comment on the 
settlement, but confirmed that the detention policies had been 
changed. The Justice Department inspector general was reviewing the case.
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