Although this story may fall into the category of stupid people going to stupid places with MORE stupid people to do stupid things, it’s still pretty horrific! For college senior Daniel Chong, a night of partying with friends led to more than four days of detention with no food, no water, and no toilet. When Chong was “found” by DEA agents, he was near death, suffering from hallucinations, severe dehydration, kidney failure, and a perforated esophagus.
According to several sources, Chong went to get high with friends on April 20. Early on April 21, the house where Chong had slept was raided by DEA officials. Drugs and handguns were removed from the premises, and 9 people were taken into custody, including Daniel Chong.
Chong was processed and interviewed. According to him, he told by DEA agents that he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, and he would be released without any charges being filed. Chong signed some paperwork and was taken to a 5′ x 10′ holding cell to await his release. It wasn’t until more than four days later, however, that Chong was “found”.
Chong tried to get agents’ attention during his ordeal. He screamed, he kicked the walls. At one point, he claims that he “cried like a baby”. He resorted to drinking his own urine, and he suffered hallucinations that invited him to tear into the cell walls to find water. In his delirium, he ate broken glass from his eyeglasses, and he attempted to scratch “sorry mom” into his left arm.
I’ve read several reports of Chong’s ordeal, and regardless of what crimes he did or didn’t commit, he didn’t deserve to suffer that way because he was “forgotten”. I have a hard time believing that he was truly forgotten, and I can’t help but wonder if the DEA agents who heard Chong’s pleas for help were simply indifferent. I can see how those folks would become indifferent doing their jobs; they’re likely exposed to all sorts of people who’re high and mad enough to chew nails. But Chong’s detention shows how dangerous it can be to remain indifferent. He almost died!
I was literally sickened by reading Chong’s story. Let’s assume for a second that Chong had committed crimes that were so horrific that he should be buried under the jail instead of locked within its walls. Even if he were that guy, he wouldn’t deserve that kind of treatment. When I think about how scared he must have been, how he must have thought he’d die in that cell, I’m saddened and angered. Yes, mistakes happen, but folks in law enforcement HAVE to be held to a higher standard. This sort of thing shouldn’t be happening in the United States of America!
Apparently, Chong’s attorney filed a $20M lawsuit against the DEA, and I’m not sure what’ll become of it. To be honest, I’m not even sure you can put a dollar figure on the suffering that Chong must have endured. This case will certainly lead to the evaluation of detention practices though. There’s no reason that this sort of thing should happen to anyone, let alone a college kid (who admittedly did something stupid by getting high with his friends) with no criminal record and no charges or arrest as a result of the DEA raid.