A college student reached a $4.1 million settlement with the U.S. government after being abandoned in a DEA cell with no food, water or windows for days.
Daniel Chong drank his own urine, hallucinated that agents were trying to poison him with gas through vents, and tried to carve a farewell message in his arm.
It remained unclear how the situation occurred, and no one has been disciplined, said Eugene Iredale, an attorney for Chong. The DOJ is investigating.
"It sounded like it was an accident ... a really, really bad, horrible accident," Chong said, putting it mildly to say the last, after a harrowing ordeal:
Chong was taken into custody during a drug raid and placed in the cell in 2012 by a San Diego police officer authorized to perform DEA work on a task force.
The officer told Chong he wouldn't be charged, saying, "Hang tight, we'll come get you in a minute," Iredale said ... and the door did not open for 4 1/2 days.
Why? No one will say publicly, more than a year after the fact.
A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed the settlement was reached for $4.1 million but declined to answer other questions, as did the DEA.
Now an economics student at the University of California-San Diego, Chong said he planned to buy his parents a house with the money he receives.
Chong was a 23-year-old engineering student when he was at a friend's house where the DEA found 18,000 ecstasy pills, other drugs and weapons.
Chong was there to smoke marijuana, his attorneys said.
He and eight other people were taken into custody, but authorities ultimately decided against pursing charges against him after questioning.
Chong began to hallucinate on day three in the cell, he recalls. He eventually urinated on a metal bench so he could have something to drink.
He also stacked a blanket, his pants and shoes on a bench and tried to reach an overhead sprinkler, futilely swatting at it in an attempt to set it off.
Chong said he accepted the possibility of death, biting into his glasses to break them and using a shard of glass to carve "Sorry Mom" onto his arm.
Eventually, after screaming and nearly passing out, 5-6 people found him covered in his feces in the cell at the DEA's San Diego headquarters.
Chong was hospitalized for five days, having suffered from dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated esophagus. He lost 15 pounds.
The DEA issued a rare public apology, though it is still unclear what happened.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday renewed his call for the DEA to explain the incident.