US to pay $4.1m to student Daniel Chong after he was abandoned in prison cell

Californian Daniel Chong, now 25, had to drink his own urine to survive after he was arrested for smoking pot

Los Angeles

A Californian college student who was arrested for smoking cannabis and then abandoned and forgotten in a windowless prison cell for almost five days has been awarded a $4.1m (£2.7m) settlement by the US government.

Daniel Chong, 25, had to drink his own urine to survive. When he was finally discovered, he had lost 15lb in weight, and spent a further five days in hospital to be treated for dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated oesophagus.

The ordeal began on 20 April 2012, when Mr Chong, right, an engineering student at the University of California, San Diego, went to a house close to the campus to smoke marijuana with some friends. Little did he know the property in question was being monitored by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). When officers raided the house, they found drugs including some 18,000 ecstasy pills, as well as weapons and ammunition. Chong was taken into custody along with eight other suspects, but told he would not be charged. He was handcuffed and left in a 5ft by 10ft cell with no windows, where an officer told him: “Hang tight. We’ll come get you in a minute.” He told US media that he believed that for the whole of the first day, saying: “It just seemed impossible that they would forget me in there.”

Eventually he started screaming, kicking the cell door and pushing ripped-up pieces of his jacket through the gap beneath it in an effort to attract attention. He tried to break a fire sprinkler in the ceiling to get water, but when that didn’t work he had to drink his own urine. On the third day, He started to hallucinate. He resigned himself to death, bit into his glasses and used the shards to carve a message into his own arm. He tried to write “Sorry mom”, but could only complete the “S”.

After more than four days, the door opened at last. Officers found Mr Chong lying on the floor covered in his own faeces. Mr Chong, who has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, says he can remember the shocked look on their faces.

Mr Chong, now studying economics, said he planned to buy his parents a house with the settlement money.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms