Forgotten inmate reacts to investigation - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Forgotten inmate reacts to investigation

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  • DOJ report criticizes DEA in forgotten detainee case

    DOJ report criticizes DEA in forgotten detainee case

    Wednesday, July 9 2014 1:24 PM EDT2014-07-09 17:24:17 GMT
    Four Drug Enforcement Administration employees saw or heard a college student who was inadvertently left handcuffed in a DEA holding cell in Kearny Mesa without food or water for five days but did nothing about the situation, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report released Tuesday. 
    Four Drug Enforcement Administration employees saw or heard a college student who was inadvertently left handcuffed in a DEA holding cell in Kearny Mesa without food or water for five days but did nothing about the situation, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report released Tuesday. 

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - He was locked in a DEA cell for five days, handcuffed and without food or water. A new report found fault with several agents who saw UC San Diego student Daniel Chong during his incarceration, but didn't help him.

Two years after being handcuffed and locked in a DEA holding cell for five days, Daniel Chong is getting by about as good as he can.

"For the most part I'm alive and well," he said. "I live a pretty quiet life. I have a small condo in UTC and haven't been going out much, finishing up school so that I can get on with my life."

On Thursday, he and his lawyers commented on a recently released summary of his ordeal. They applauded the processing changes made at the facility and the fact cameras now help keep an eye on inmates. But they were troubled to learn that four employees saw or heard Chong while he was crying for help and did nothing. Their other problem with the summary -- it's just a summary and isn't the full report that details what happened those four days and who was involved.

"I completely understand and agree that it was a complete accident. There was no malintent (sic) with it. Of course I'm interested on what happened to me, because of how inconceivable it is," he said.

"At some point Daniel became delirious from the lack of water. And so some of the things that he remembers, may have been only in his own mind," attorney Eugene Iredale said.

The ACLU is helping Chong, and has formally requested the full report.

"The public has a compelling interest in knowing what happened to him and how the government so utterly failed to protect him," Margaret Dooley-Sammuli of the ACLU said.

They added the government is now required to release the report, but they can really take as long as they want, and can release a redacted version.

"We're here to make sure what should be done is done. We believe that transparency and full accountability require that the report itself in its totality be made public," Iredale said.

In a statement, the DEA said in part they remain deeply troubled by this unfortunate incident and have changed procedures when it comes to processing inmates. They also said the issue remains an ongoing internal disciplinary matter, and they cannot comment any further.

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