This is your war on drugs.
May 4, 2012 2:01 PM   Subscribe

On April 20, Daniel Chong went to get high at his friend's place. Next morning the DEA raided the house. Chong was detained and placed in a 5x10' holding cell. He was left there with his hands cuffed behind his back for four days without food, water or human contact. He hallucinated, drank his own urine, and eventually, convinced he was going to die, he broke his eyeglasses and carved 'Sorry Mom' on his arm as a final message. When he was final released he was taken to hospital where he was treated for kidney failure, dehydration and a perforated esophagus. The DEA says it was an accident. NYT, AP, interview, interview.
posted by unSane (140 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this earlier today. What happened to this young man is terrible, and shows some poor oversight and procedures on the part of the DEA. It would be interesting to know if this is a pattern of behavior or an isolated event.
posted by HuronBob at 2:05 PM on May 4, 2012


This was clearly a mistake rather some deliberate draconian measure. But still, the thought must occur in every person's head when they hear this: "Why in the hell are dudes like this being locked up for partying at all?" And in that, hopefully it will be yet another crack in the Drug Wars walled-consciousness of the fundamental injustice of criminalizing pleasure and/or addiction.

And also: Poor kid. I hope he's OK, this sounds deeply traumatic.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:06 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


America is over.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:07 PM on May 4, 2012 [24 favorites]


An accident? An accident is knocking your mom's vase off the end table and breaking it. This is gross negligence, unlawful imprisonment or some other thing that I can't properly identify because I am giving in to the GRAR.

Somebody was responsible for this.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2012 [91 favorites]


This is a terrible thing, of course, but what has been lost in every telling I've heard of this from people is this:


The next morning, the D.E.A. raided the house. Agents found about 18,000 pills identified as MDMA, or Ecstasy, along with other drugs and weapons


The reason he ended up in a DEA cell is not because he smoked some weed. It's because he was present at a pretty big drug bust.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


The only sustenance he had, he said, was a packet of white powder that he found wrapped in the blanket, which turned out to be methamphetamine.

If I'm defending against this guy's suit, I'm leading with this at trial.
posted by resurrexit at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Posted here, and deleted.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Original San Diego newspaper article.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2012


For some added WTF, the NYT article mentions he found some methamphetamine in the cell he was placed in. Clearly a mistake doesn't begin to describe the kind of mess an organization should be in for stuff like that to be even possible.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:10 PM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


reminds me of this poor guy who was locked in solitary for two years without being charged with a crime.
posted by nadawi at 2:10 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


At this rate, I am waiting for a terrorist event to happen that was actually the result of bureaucratic need to justify their existences. Something where the FBI sponsored an agent to infiltrate a terror cell that is actually a DEA sponsored drug ring that is trying to broker a deal with CIA organized group trying to undermine a DHS border mole system.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:11 PM on May 4, 2012 [41 favorites]


The reason he ended up in a DEA cell is not because he smoked some weed. It's because he was present at a pretty big drug bust.

I'm sure you're not suggesting that's at all relevant to him being tortured. Right?
posted by odinsdream at 2:11 PM on May 4, 2012 [31 favorites]


Big drug bust or not, nobody in the entire history of the world deserves this kind of torture.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:11 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


America is over.

Consider Kent State, political assassinations of politicians and civil rights leaders, Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968, Watergate, the Draft....
posted by KokuRyu at 2:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


Consider Kent State, political assassinations of politicians and civil rights leaders, Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968, Watergate, the Draft....

Yeah, the argument could be made that America isn't so much over as operating exactly the same.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:13 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


The reason he ended up in a DEA cell is not because he smoked some weed. It's because he was present at a pretty big drug bust.

Did you miss the part that that was his friend's house, he was never charged with anything and that he was supposed to be released the same day? What exactly are you saying here?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:13 PM on May 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Adding to what I just said, let's just pretend that it was his house and it was his drugs and he was charged with lots of crimes...what happened is still not acceptable in the slightest.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:15 PM on May 4, 2012 [24 favorites]


What exactly are you saying here?

I'm reading what he's saying as "YEAH HE WAS ABUSED BUT HE DESERVED IT BECAUSE GRAR POLICE STATE GOOD," but I suspect he means something else.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:16 PM on May 4, 2012


I'm not sure which is worse: the idea that the DEA did it on purpose, or the idea that they didn't.
posted by sotonohito at 2:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [48 favorites]


Even if he was caught red handed with pounds of drugs in his pants, this should never have happened. FOUR DAYS. Without WATER.
posted by ymgve at 2:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [23 favorites]


Gosh, that DEA is so innocent. They were only trying to protect us!
posted by telstar at 2:20 PM on May 4, 2012


Even if he was caught red handed with pounds of drugs in his pants, this should never have happened. FOUR DAYS. Without WATER.

It's just crazy. I need to travel to the States in a few months, and perhaps fly out of an airport there. I am a little paranoid about all of the fine things that could happen to me at the hands of your fine country.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:22 PM on May 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


The reason he ended up in a DEA cell is not because he smoked some weed. It's because he was present at a pretty big drug bust.

Evidently, no one really knows why he ended up in a DEA cell — particularly, not the DEA, whose agents had all somehow forgotten they had locked someone up.

If there was a reason for him to be in a lockup, then the DEA would have been keeping tabs on his cell.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]



Geez, that sucks. It makes you wonder though, didn't any of the 7 other guys ask about him? What about his folks? This isn't just an Ooops, it's an epic fail.

Also, how is it that in America today that every holding cell everywhere isn't wired for video/audio? HOW?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:23 PM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah I imagine mistaken imprisonments like this must happen sometimes but then they charge the arrested guy with the crimes and process them like normal and nothing is said to the press. This time, the fuckup was so fucked up they couldn't possibly play it down.

A. Probably shouldn't have been arrested even with the hard drug bust
B. Left in cell for too long, should have been released immediately.
C. With METH? Wtf?
D. Almost died from neglect

Any one of those is a story. All of the Above might be a turning point. I hope.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The reason he ended up in a DEA cell is not because he smoked some weed. It's because he was present at a pretty big drug bust.

No amount of MDMA justifies armed raids or a day's worth of imprisonment, much less neglect approaching torture. The Drug War is insane.
posted by vorfeed at 2:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm reading what he's saying as "YEAH HE WAS ABUSED BUT HE DESERVED IT BECAUSE GRAR POLICE STATE GOOD," but I suspect he means something else.

No, I'm not saying he deserved it.

I'm relating how the story has been told to me, many times, over the last few days, which has always been framed as "dude smoked a little weed, why is he even in a holding cell". This post propogates this subtly (see the title). Many people who are opposed to prohibition still think that people probably shouldn't have 18,000 ecstacy pills.

For the record, there's no crime he could have been charged with, or guilty of, that I think deserves this punishment.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


Also, how is it that in America today that every holding cell everywhere isn't wired for video/audio? HOW?

Because the police would rather spend their money on armored assault vehicles and automatic weapons.
posted by COD at 2:27 PM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


when a whole bunch of friends get rounded up together, the confusion gets thick pretty quick. it's hard to keep tabs on who got picked up, who's been charged, who's fronting for bail. there's a lot of people who believe if the cops pick you up, there's going to be a fuckton of red tape, they might shove you around a bit, it could be a couple days, but you'll get some meals and shelter. that presumption was tragically off in this case.

it's not at all surprising to me that it could take 4 days for friends/family to work through the BS to find him.
posted by nadawi at 2:28 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the record, there's no crime he could have been charged with, or guilty of, that I think deserves this punishment.

Even though you're meeting a lot of resistance here, for what it's worth I think it's important to get all the facts right. When you misrepresent the facts, you make it seem like the facts aren't strong enough on their own.
posted by zixyer at 2:31 PM on May 4, 2012 [25 favorites]


For the record, there's no crime he could have been charged with, or guilty of, that I think deserves this punishment.

Well said and I apologize for the GRAR.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:31 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm relating how the story has been told to me, many times, over the last few days, which has always been framed as "dude smoked a little weed, why is he even in a holding cell". This post propogates this subtly (see the title). Many people who are opposed to prohibition still think that people probably shouldn't have 18,000 ecstacy pills.

In what way is "this is your war on drugs" not an accurate title? Being busted for having 18,000 ecstacy pills is most certainly part of the war on drugs.
posted by vorfeed at 2:32 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised the DEA even has holding cells. They should have agreements that let them put people in county jails, just like every other law enforcement agency. County jails are big enough that they can buy technology to keep track of people. One little DEA office probably isn't.
posted by miyabo at 2:32 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's not at all surprising to me that it could take 4 days for friends/family to work through the BS to find him.

That is not the main problem here. The problem is someone left alone in a cell without water or food for several days. Sure, his family might have trouble finding him, but I'd expect the officers holding him there to be aware of him.
posted by ymgve at 2:34 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


So does he have to get a kidney transplant now? Or could his kidneys be revived? Either way, this is insane, but my God, I can't even imagine the shit he'll have to go through for the rest of his life if his kidneys were permanently damaged. There is no justifying that.
posted by limeonaire at 2:36 PM on May 4, 2012


The only sustenance he had, he said, was a packet of white powder that he found wrapped in the blanket, which turned out to be methamphetamine.

This is really where it goes off the deep end.
posted by mek at 2:36 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is appalling on a whole lot of levels, but one worth highlighting is just what miyabo points out: Why the hell is the DEA in the locking-people-up business, which they're clearly not qualified to do? Here's hoping the lawsuit is massive enough that every time the DEA ever brings anyone in again, they check them on an hourly basis to make sure they don't end up out another $5 mil.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:36 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


It appears that other officers may have been in a position to hear his screams for help during the several days. He has stated that he could hear other prisoners and officers nearby during the ordeal.

I'm extremely curious to hear what they have to say about that.
posted by Aquaman at 2:37 PM on May 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


FOUR DAYS. Without WATER.
Yeah but he had urine...and the urine had WEED in it...
posted by Busmick at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's hoping the lawsuit is massive enough that every time the DEA ever brings anyone in again, they check them on an hourly basis to make sure they don't end up out another $5 mil.
Hopefully this procedure change doesn't require a massive lawsuit.
posted by bleep at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2012


ymgve - i never said it was the problem. i was answering this from a few comments earlier: Geez, that sucks. It makes you wonder though, didn't any of the 7 other guys ask about him? What about his folks?
posted by nadawi at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2012


According to the radio show I heard ("On Point", on NPR), he was screaming and kicking at the doors for many hours, while he could hear people being taken in and out of the rooms immediately adjacent. If he could hear the other rooms, then the DEA could obviously hear his screaming and pounding, and nobody thought to even check on it? In five days? (I heard this, by the way, as FIVE days, not four.)

It either has to be deliberate, or incompetence so extreme that it should be punished as though it were deliberate.
posted by Malor at 2:39 PM on May 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


people probably shouldn't have 18,000 ecstacy pills

Did they? Who are "people"? Did THIS guy have 18,000 ecstacy pills? Seems like maybe not, since he never got charged with anything. Did ANYBODY get charged? Since when does due process not apply to people suspected of drug offenses?

I hope this kid sues the DEA and takes $100 million off of them. The DEA is out of control and responsible to no one and nothing. They've turned into a secret government all to themselves.
posted by Fnarf at 2:39 PM on May 4, 2012 [20 favorites]


Before we condemn the DEA agent, shouldn't we see how much good he has done in the world since last month?
posted by codswallop at 2:40 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


My biggest problem with society these days, is that no one is willing to be held responsible for anything. In this case a bunch of people should lose their jobs immediately for starters. That'd be a good place to start.
posted by straight_razor at 2:41 PM on May 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


Big drug bust or not, nobody in the entire history of the world deserves this kind of torture.
I'm sure lots of people in the history of the world have deserved this kind of torture. But that's academic, because nobody in the entire history of the world deserves to be allowed to administer it.
posted by roystgnr at 2:42 PM on May 4, 2012 [53 favorites]


The very first thing that went thought my mind (after WTF?) was why didn't he try to get their attention after a couple of days? But if, as Malor suggests, he was trying to get their attention and they still ignored him, then DEA needs to be on the hook for a HUGE gross negligence settlement.
posted by darkstar at 2:45 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't an "oops," this is criminal negligence.

Naturally, I expect promotions for all involved.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:47 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, I expect the usual for police misconduct. Lots of serious talk about "investigation", then "no charges were filed" and everyone quietly goes about their lives and careers.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:52 PM on May 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


why didn't he try to get their attention

He screamed himself hoarse before giving up.

FIVE DAYS. 120 hours, give or take. No water, even.

I take it some of y'all have never been in a jail cell before. You don't "get their attention"; they come and see you when they want. Or not.
posted by Fnarf at 2:53 PM on May 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


Before we condemn the DEA agent, shouldn't we see how much good he has done in the world since last month?

Oh, look! A load of codswallop!
posted by Floydd at 3:03 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I'm defending against this guy's suit, I'm leading with this at trial.

Am I misunderstanding you here? In defending against a suit that claims the DEA took inadequate care of those in their custody, you're going to lead with the fact that their previous prisoner searches were so poor that a prisoner was able to bring meth into the cell and that their care of the cells was so poor that it could be left there for the next person to find? That's a brave and interesting strategy.
posted by reynir at 3:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [16 favorites]


Oh, look! A load of codswallop!

It makes sense- in that previous thread, I was told that if you do charity work, you should get off scott-free. Remember, it's what's good for society, not the victims.
posted by happyroach at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2012


A tragedy, unforgivable, grossly derelict, subject to criminal and civil liability--definitely. But no more a comment on the over all nature of the United States than the tragedies that occur daily in China, India, Mexico, South Africa, UK, etc. are a reflection on their national character. Nor any more a comment on a country than the hopeful, optimistic, heroic and excellent things that happen define a countries character. The generalization of these tragic events as a reflection on the over all culture must be approached carefully. The 9,000+ annual homicides, an embarrassing and tragic infant mortality rate, the national disaster of healthcare reform and the abuse of green/open spaces and economic inequality may be character defining. Just as world class higher education, breast cancer survival rates and an extremely open press (yes) may define the United States character. And I imagine most travelers to the United States will be quite safe unless you think the airport bombings in Scotland several years ago make it unsafe to visit there.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Many people who are opposed to prohibition still think that people probably shouldn't have 18,000 ecstacy pills.

This doesn't make any sense. If ecstacy is legal why should having 18,000 pills be anymore of a problem than having 18,000 Tylenol, Aspririn or Sudafed?
posted by Mitheral at 3:19 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Many people think that owning or taking small amounts of drugs should be legal, but dealing should be illegal.
posted by miyabo at 3:28 PM on May 4, 2012


Uh, Sudafed might not be the best example to use.
posted by workerant at 3:29 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


that's like saying the cat's allowed on the windowsill behind the sink, but not on the counters. how will people get drugs if no one can deal them? if there's no legal selling, the problems with the war on drugs still exist.
posted by nadawi at 3:35 PM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


If any of you guys ever end up in a similar situation, DON'T DRINK YOUR URINE. In general human urine is around 2% salt and so would be about neutral in terms of actually hydrating you, your body will require about the same amount of water to excrete the same salt all over again.

There are a very limited set of circumstances where if you know you will be without water for a long period of time drinking your urine once can potentially make sense depending on the nature of your diet before hand, but even then this is a massive blow to your kidneys in exchange for a net benefit of very little time before you desiccates to general organ failure. NEVER EVER DRINK IT A SECOND TIME, THIS WILL NEVER HELP YOU, and even if it could you would be in no condition to judge by that point.

This is an exhaustive report of what is in urine and what it could do to you, NASA Contractor Report No. NASA CR-1802, D. F. Putnam, July 1971 (PDF).
posted by Blasdelb at 3:35 PM on May 4, 2012 [44 favorites]


Just came by to say I'm still against legalization, but I'm also 100% against the abuse of prisoners for any reason whatsoever. Never should've been stuck in the cell overnight, let alone this. Holy shit, I hope this kid gets one massive settlement/judgment against the DEA for this, because this is eighteen kinds of fucked up.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:49 PM on May 4, 2012


I'm curious how he got the urine from his pecker to his mouth.

Piss in a bottle?

Cup his hand and shovel it into his face?

Block up the sink with his blanket?
posted by notyou at 3:58 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


And before you say it, don't say garden hose.
posted by notyou at 4:00 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the AP report, he urinated on the bench in his cell.
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:02 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I expect the usual for police misconduct. Lots of serious talk about "investigation", then "no charges were filed" and everyone quietly goes about their lives and careers.

That's what civil suits are for, and believe you me, there's one in the offing here.
posted by valkyryn at 4:03 PM on May 4, 2012


Yeah, the On Point show said he was suing for $20 million.
posted by Malor at 4:05 PM on May 4, 2012


Holding cells are the worst. They're the between-place, the place where nothing but waiting happens. You sit in them going in, and you sit in them going out. You never know how long anything is going to take -- the authorities have better things to do than talk to you, like stand around drinking coffee. It could be ten minutes until you're sprung, it could be three hours. You can't know. No one will tell you anything but "Be quiet." The cell smells like feet and farts and disinfectant. Time limps along. You are powerless. You can do nothing but wait.

And that's if you're lucky enough to be in an actual jail cell. Most holding cells are line-of-sight with a processing desk. Where someone sits, pointedly ignoring you. But at least there's someone there. You can yell loud enough to make them flinch, if you have to.

Because being forgotten in such a place... Man. That's just a fucking nightmare. That's the nightmare of everyone who's ever sat in a holding cell for more than ten minutes.

And that's what I find so chilling about this. This situation implies that the DEA agents were so accustomed to ignoring the people locked up in their holding cells that it took them five days to realize their mistake. They were so used to treating people like objects that the very human instinct that would prompt a normal person to check to see if maybe the dude pleading for water actually needs some, that instinct had withered away.

That such an incident occurred says less about the failure of the DEA to follow protocol and more about how the whole process dehumanizes everyone involved, agent and suspect alike.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:07 PM on May 4, 2012 [77 favorites]



If any of you guys ever end up in a similar situation, DON'T DRINK YOUR URINE.


That's interesting because I thought I read somewhere some expert saying if he hadn't drank his urine he would not have lasted so long. I was confused because my understanding was that urine was salt and waste and was not going to re-hydrate you. I felt anxious because I didn't like thinking that if it happened to me, I would have been dead.
posted by bleep at 4:11 PM on May 4, 2012


Many of us would be -- if he hadn't been young, he would probably have died.

Doing without water for that long is horrific torture.
posted by Malor at 4:20 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


NEVER EVER DRINK IT A SECOND TIME, THIS WILL NEVER HELP YOU, and even if it could you would be in no condition to judge by that point.

So, not really useful advice, by definition.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:32 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lots of serious talk about "investigation", then "no charges were filed" and everyone quietly goes about their lives and careers.

No, a bunch of people will be fired and then sued into the ground in relation to this case. This is what actually happens a lot of the time, but it doesn't get anywhere near as much media coverage as the original outrage did so people tend not to notice. I'm not willing to spend hours trying to quantify the success rates for well-founded suits against the government in county, state and federal jurisdictions (but you could start here and follow the article linked at the end for more detailed analysis).

Lawsuits are merely the tip of an iceberg in relation to the social problem that they illustrate, and it would be facile to declare that the system is working fine just because remedial mechanisms exist. However, it's equally facile to declare that the system is irredeemably flawed while paying no attention whatsoever to such mechanisms.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:33 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The meth thing I'm skeptical of. If he had crashed the night at his friends house on 4/20, who was obviously quite a partier, there was some casual meth and ecstasy consumption. He may have had it on him and accidently or purposefully gotten it past the DEA search when they did the initial bust.

But there's no way this was not deliberate.

The NYT article mentions that of the 9 arrested, 1 was released, 7 were taken to county holding and only he stayed in a DEA holding cell.

I'm guessing he either didn't cooperate when questioned, or somebody at the DEA didn't like the way he looked/talked to them. They were probably teaching him a lesson.
posted by formless at 4:35 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a good a thread as any to mention this factoid. I have a good friend who is a reserve sheriffs deputy. Basically he works weekends, but he is a full blown cop, doing arrests and what not, and he's been doing this for close to twenty years.

He absolutely LOVES the show Reno 911. And he swears up and down that the writers have to have been cops.
posted by Xoebe at 4:38 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


If even in a jail cell, you can get drugs, and not even be looking for them; it's logical to ask: how much further will we allow our rights to be eroded in the name of *policing* that which cannot be policed?
posted by jackspace at 4:43 PM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


They were probably teaching him a lesson.

And by that, I assume you mean, "Not doing their jobs."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:46 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Am I the only person who thinks the DEA agents left the meth with him hoping he'd take it, OD, and then they'd just write him off as a junkie overdosing?
posted by winna at 4:47 PM on May 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Eventually, his hands still cuffed behind his back, he broke his eyeglasses with his teeth, as he contemplated killing himself.

Of all the horrifying details, the one that sticks out to me is the fact that he was handcuffed behind his back the entire time. Just...the feeling of it, I can feel it and it makes me cringe. Such helplessness and pain just from that on top of everything else.
posted by Danila at 4:48 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


And by that, I assume you mean, "Not doing their jobs."

Right. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply I approved of that kind of behavior if it happened. It's horrid but all too common to see vindictive cops taking revenge on suspects who fight back.
posted by formless at 4:54 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


One thing that's a little unclear to me -- how do you carve a message into your arm when your hands are cuffed behind you? I understand that he broke his specs with his teeth (and swallowed a piece of glass), and I can picture him writhing around on the bits, but how do you even try to write?
posted by Fnarf at 5:05 PM on May 4, 2012


I think incompetence is a better explanation for what happened to this kid than conspiracies.
posted by cell divide at 5:07 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


He was completely insane at that point. Apparently he didn't successfully write anything, and he also failed to kill himself, which was his apparent intent. That's probably because he was sufficiently immobilized by the handcuffs to prevent him from doing anything other than minor scratching. Glasses are usually plastic anyway, so they would be difficult to shatter and not very good at cutting with.
posted by mek at 5:08 PM on May 4, 2012


I can't imagine this was intentional. I'm sure they have an arsenal of unpleasant ways to "teach someone a lesson" that doesn't do such obvious physical damage, doesn't take so long, and gives the illusion that the victim had some complicity in bringing about the punishment or that the punishment was deserved.

I think Bitter Old Punk hits the nail on the head when he says what's so chilling is that:
This situation implies that the DEA agents were so accustomed to ignoring the people locked up in their holding cells that it took them five days to realize their mistake.
posted by treepour at 5:09 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Geez, that sucks. It makes you wonder though, didn't any of the 7 other guys ask about him? What about his folks?

I am trying to imagine what someone's conception of their government could be that could contain both Daniel Chong being held without water in a cell for five days and, "DEA, Officer Lewis. Oh hello, Mrs. Chong. No, he is here -- I will put you right through!"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:19 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Um, am I the only one that finds the theory that they were trying to kill him and make it look like an overdose kinda... plausible?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Many people think that owning or taking small amounts of drugs should be legal, but dealing should be illegal.

So we can expect those people to be coming down like a ton of bricks on Walgreens any day now?
posted by robertc at 5:24 PM on May 4, 2012


Been there, done that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2012


I really can't wrap my head around how this happened. What sort of crazy f'd up situations could possibly allow any prisoner (let alone one who shouldn't have been locked up in the first place) to stay in prison for 5 days? How could no one have seen or heard him? Are the cells not patrolled? Are they not in sight of other guards?

He deserve his compensation but sadly it will come from the taxpayers and not the person responsible for the screw-up. I know it is normal and needed to sue the big pockets instead of the person responsible but it always bothered me that some jerk doesn't mop up some water, some asshole manager at a big chain store violates a person's civil/employment/ada rights, some psycho cop puts a teenager into the hospital, etc and they get fired at worst. Yes, they wouldn't have the funds to make restitution but they see little punishment for the most part and that just seems wrong.

If I was less honest I'd find me a collaborator. I would commit an offense such as telling a person who is applying for a job that we don't hire {epitaph} or possibly locking a person up for a few days after secretly slipping him some bottled water. Then allow the victim to sue for millions and give me a cut of the proceeds.
posted by 2manyusernames at 5:45 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, the shackling while in the cell really struck me. Why is this allowed?

As did a throwaway sentence in a story about a guy who was just convicted of killing a cop by shoving off some steps (though there's some suspicion that the cop's partner accidentally bumped into him and he fell). The line was that the guy turned around to look at his family when the verdict was announced and the court officers grabbed him and forced him to face the front.

I am sick to death of the abuse of authority.
posted by etaoin at 5:49 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


And Bill Maher should be interesting tonight.
posted by etaoin at 5:50 PM on May 4, 2012


workerant writes "Uh, Sudafed might not be the best example to use."

Sorry, forgot it wasn't really legal in the States.

mek writes "Glasses are usually plastic anyway, so they would be difficult to shatter and not very good at cutting with."

YMMV, my glasses are glass.

etaoin writes "Yes, the shackling while in the cell really struck me. Why is this allowed?"

For short term holding it means not having to recuff a prisoner. Cuffing a detainee is a relatively dangerous time for officers.
posted by Mitheral at 5:56 PM on May 4, 2012


some psycho cop puts a teenager into the hospital, etc and they get fired at worst.

This is kind of an interesting ethical case because the crime was inaction, not action. No specific person left him in that cell; any of the employees could have walked down that hallway and noticed him. Someone put him in the cell, sure, but presumably he assumed the regular staff would check on him. It's bureaucratic incompetence, but I don't think you can try a bureaucracy and send it to prison.
posted by miyabo at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2012


someone put him in the cell still handcuffed. that seems like a specific enough action. then, every single person on shift in that area for the next 4 days didn't check one of the cells with a prisoner in it who still had fucking handcuffs on. that amount of inaction also strikes me as criminal.
posted by nadawi at 6:01 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of outrage here. I'm gonna save my outrage, though, because this kind of extreme negligence and/or cruelty is exactly the kind of thing that our legal system is actually good at dealing with. The DEA will get hit with a huge punitive fine, and safeguards will be put in place to make sure this precise thing never happens again. It's the mundane cruelty that I'm going to be outraged about: the hundreds of thousands of people in prison for non-violent drug crimes. Not being tortured, just not free.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


...people in prison for non-violent drug crimes. Not being tortured, just not free.

Not to mention those in prisoner who are tortured at the hands of fellow inmates and the acts of commission or omission of guards.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


No specific person left him in that cell

I disagree. EVERY SPECIFIC PERSON who walked by his cell during those five days is guilty of leaving him there.

It's bureaucratic incompetence, but I don't think you can try a bureaucracy and send it to prison.

Maybe not, but you CAN sue everyone in sight, and that'd be a good start.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:24 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


The meth thing I'm skeptical of. If he had crashed the night at his friends house on 4/20, who was obviously quite a partier, there was some casual meth and ecstasy consumption.

How can you know that?
posted by clockzero at 6:25 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


then, every single person on shift in that area for the next 4 days didn't check one of the cells with a prisoner in it who still had fucking handcuffs on.

There's at least three shifts that should be fired for gross negligence. The list of "things that are your job" that weren't done is quite staggering. Start at "head count" and work your way up.

Of course, nothing will happen other than the taxpayers paying for this travesty.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:29 PM on May 4, 2012


All for the crime of giving a bunch of teenagers the best night of their lives. Go forbid we have too much hugging, dancing, cuddling and talking about our feelings.
posted by empath at 6:45 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Many people think that owning or taking small amounts of drugs should be legal, but dealing should be illegal.

Those people are fucking morons.
posted by empath at 6:49 PM on May 4, 2012 [17 favorites]


The meth thing I'm skeptical of.

There's only a couple possibilities really.

1) The meth was there from a previous prisoner who concealed it in the blanket to avoid a possession charge.
2) Daniel had it on his person and the DEA failed to find it.
3) The DEA planted it in the room for nefarious purposes.

I find #3 to be pretty farfetched (what's the motivation?), and the only other possibilities leave the DEA incompetent enough to allow their detainees to carry drugs into the holding cell with them, and once you're in cuffs with drugs on your person it's pretty obvious you want to hide the drugs. Given that we already know this particular section of the DEA is exceptionally incompetent, it's a small leap to make. Finally, if Daniel knew it was methamphetamine, it seems unlikely he would attempt to eat some of it while dying of dehydration. Unless doing so was part of his suicide attempt, in which case he would have swallowed the whole thing, which he did not. Therefore #1.
posted by mek at 7:01 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am going to guess #1 myself. Tweakers are fucking geniuses at hiding drugs.
posted by empath at 7:02 PM on May 4, 2012


It doesn't make any sense to me why there are still completely separate federal law enforcement agencies. The DEA, ATF, etc. should've been rolled up under the FBI long ago. It's not that the FBI isn't also corrupt(ible) and (potentially) incompetent, but at least we only have to fix those problems in one place under the once-a-generation blue moon during which the politicians give a shit about fixing real problems.

The hagiographic portrayal of law enforcement in the media combined with their increasingly oversight-free and ever-growing powers leave me with less and less reason to believe they aren't reaching new heights of innovation in the field of public graft and corruption.
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry, leaving someone locked in a cell and in handcuffs is a perversion of justice. So it's "relatively" dangerous for oficers? That is their job. Some how we've elevated the needs of the jailers above those of presumed-innocent detainees. This has to stop.
posted by etaoin at 7:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find #3 to be pretty farfetched (what's the motivation?)

They get him to fail a drug test, thereby justifying holding him in the first place.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:17 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing that matters is that the when you are taken into by the government it literally means that the government is assuming responsibility for caring for you. That is it. That is what custody means. The fact that the DEA could not be trusted to take care of their charge means plain and simple to me that they are incapable of caring for citizens. The executive branch needs to immediately revoke the right of the DEA to assume custody of citizens until it can show it is capable of caring for it's charges.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 7:26 PM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Many people think that owning or taking small amounts of drugs should be legal, but dealing should be illegal.

Those people are fucking morons.


Not necessarily. I hate the Drug War and think drastic changes need to be made. I'm uncertain on what policy I'd like to see in its place, exactly, as I see the appeal in simply legalizing drugs, but I've also seen the ravaging effects of them.

I've had clients who were victims of addiction, and who I defended against drug charges. But the effects of their addictions weren't just criminal prosecution, but physical ailments, homelessness, etc. And dealers prey on and exploit these things (certain dealers, anyway.)

I don't find any paradox in the view (even if I don't share it) that dealing drugs which can devastate whole communities should incur criminal liability, but that being an addict, or simply taking drugs, should not, and should rather be met with treatment, etc.

********

Onto this topic, I'm feeling rather "Fuck the Police" today. Because of this combined with an article from a deleted FPP today, describing sexual assaults by the NYPD against OWS Protestors.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:26 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


everything you described is a function of alcohol as well, most of what you described can be found in gambling, shopping, and plastic surgery. until we start locking up sam adams master brewer and the ceos at the credit card companies, it seems weird to single out the drug dealers.
posted by nadawi at 7:31 PM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


At first, four days didn't seem like that long, but after giving it some thought, I doubt I would've made it at all. The scariest thing would be not having any idea when it would be over, if ever.

What this really drives home for me isn't that something like this could happen in America, but how this stuff is (intentionally) routine for some governments, with no repercussions whatsoever.

It's like, people who are so quick to call a politician a Communist or fascist, have probably never actually had to experience those things first-hand.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:32 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can think of a very good reason as to why it's a bad idea for your neighbor to have 18,0000 pills in his house. My co-op grower/dealer whatever neighbor was targeted and held up at gun point by three men, right about the time my kids walk home from the bus stop. An old dealer friend of mine kept loaded guns hidden all about his house. And since law enforcement has decided to continue to point guns at people in this business, then yes, it's a really fucking bad idea for you or your neighbor to have 18,000 pills on hand.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:33 PM on May 4, 2012


Of course, if it wasn't illegal, it would not be nearly as much of a target, because stealing it would be a crime that the police could be called for. It becomes no worse than having any other expensive and portable items around the house.
posted by flaterik at 8:42 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


nadawi, I don't disagree. I've spent a lot of time professionally on these issues and I only know two things. 1.) that I don't know enough to feel confidant proposing a decent drug policy, and 2.) that our current one is hideously counter-productive and needs to end right now.

All I was saying is that it's not paradoxical to want a world where dealers can be criminally punished but users cannot.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:45 PM on May 4, 2012


It's not legal.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:06 PM on May 4, 2012


Sorry Brocktoon, I thought you were responding to

Many people who are opposed to prohibition still think that people probably shouldn't have 18,000 ecstacy pills.

This doesn't make any sense. If ecstacy is legal why should having 18,000 pills be anymore of a problem than having 18,000 Tylenol, Aspririn or Sudafed?"


It is still prohibition rather than the drugs that are making your point correct, but it does remain so under current conditions.
posted by flaterik at 9:15 PM on May 4, 2012


I don't want to downplay how awful this experience must have been for him, and it's not even remotely acceptable that this happened. At the same time, when I initially saw this article was "he drank his urine after only 4 days? You must be joking". I know lots of people who regularly go on prolonged fasts (1-2 weeks) without food or water, and none of them died from it.
Of course, none of them were handcuffed in a cell on drugs, either.
posted by windykites at 9:27 PM on May 4, 2012


I think incompetence is a better explanation for what happened to this kid than conspiracies.

As with civilian casualties in war, or any time someone powerful does something to harm someone weak, this is an instance in which mistakes do not exist, and even unintentional harm should be considered indistinguishable from the product of out-and-out malice.
posted by kengraham at 9:28 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


America is over.

Fascist America is over. Stupid, careless, incompetent. Time to try the other model.

This is precisely the kind of incident that puts the lie to that stupidest of all justifications, "If this [whatever heinous process one is trying to justify] keeps one kid off drugs, then it's worth it."
posted by philip-random at 9:33 PM on May 4, 2012


windykites: I know lots of people who regularly go on prolonged fasts (1-2 weeks) without food or water, and none of them died from it.

Previously, on Ask Metafilter: How long can humans last without water?. Panicking man screaming for help and thrashing around sweats more than serene buddhist.
posted by Decimask at 9:39 PM on May 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


Gah! I really did not need to read ths right before bedtime.

I hope he gets his $20M, and as a taxpayer, I think he should get more.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:41 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Decimask beat me to it. Food, sure (see that Harper's article from April). Water, no way.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:43 PM on May 4, 2012


I know lots of people who regularly go on prolonged fasts (1-2 weeks) without food or water, and none of them died from it.

You don't know anyone that has gone 2 weeks without water. You might think you do but you don't.
posted by Bonzai at 9:56 PM on May 4, 2012 [55 favorites]


"In examples of hospitalized individuals who are in a persistent vegetative state, who become cut off from artificial sustenance, death ensues within 10-14 days. Keep in mind that these individuals are in a coma and completely immobile, thereby consuming the lowest amount of energy possible. It can thus be surmised that the same conditions (no food or water) in a person who is at least somewhat active, and who may perspire, would only lead to a much swifter end." (source)

I hope he prevails in court.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:47 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


etaoin writes "leaving someone locked in a cell and in handcuffs is a perversion of justice. So it's 'relatively' dangerous for oficers? That is their job. Some how we've elevated the needs of the jailers above those of presumed-innocent detainees. This has to stop."

I don't disagree with your points. Be aware though that making things safer for officers in this particular case makes things safer for the detainees (in the general case not this specific case). It de-esculates the interaction. There will be fewer incidents of detainees fighting with officers.

windykites writes "I know lots of people who regularly go on prolonged fasts (1-2 weeks) without food or water, and none of them died from it."

Two weeks without food or water; while survivable in some cases isn't something that should be seen as routine or no big deal. Most people are going to be risking organ damage or death at the 14 day point. AskMe on it. It is certainly possible for even a healthy person to run into problem in just a few days.
posted by Mitheral at 11:04 PM on May 4, 2012


I do wonder, if the guy had died, if the incident would be quietly covered up. Maybe this happens a few times a year and we never hear about it.
posted by miyabo at 11:13 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do wonder, if the guy had died, if the incident would be quietly covered up. Maybe this happens a few times a year and we never hear about it.

Hard to say. I mean, if he tested positive for meth, who really knows what happened?

As for the claim that this is totally survivable, that people willingly do this? That is beyond-the-pale fucked-up and incorrect. Yes, people fast for that long sometimes. They don't do it without water, generally, because that's stupid and insanely dangerous and can kill you, as it almost killed this man, who was thankfully at his peak health when this happened.

More importantly, they do so willingly, meaning that they can prepare for it. They don't get thrown into it handcuffed behind their backs without human acknowledgement for days on end. They don't do it without a sense of how much time is passing. They don't do it while screaming and pounding on the walls until they no longer have the strength or voice. They don't resort to pissing on a bench and trying to slurp up what they can to survive. They don't resort to breaking their glasses with their teeth in order to write farewell messages to their mothers in their skin. While their captors are on the other side of the door, ignoring them.

And they can stop anytime they choose.

In other words, don't fucking try to excuse this for a second.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:02 AM on May 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Oh, and here's another helpful AskMe thread which I feel is relevant.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:03 AM on May 5, 2012


Want to avoid the taxpayers paying for this conduct?
Want this conduct to not happen in the future?

Simple.

Support H.R. 5cr3wup and S.m4k33mp4y

For any violation of the rules government officials make the person* harmed whole. This making whole will be done by the liquidation of the officials assets. If the resulting official's assets sold to the lowest bidder* are not enough to cover the expense, the official's boss is to have their assets treated in the same way.
This liquidation will continue up the chain until the person is made whole.

Think of the incentive to do your job. Think of the boss - who has an incentive to make sure their underlings are doing their job.


*persons are also Citizen United people.
*as per the rules of acquisition
posted by rough ashlar at 2:09 AM on May 5, 2012


Want to avoid the taxpayers paying for this conduct?

No. We are responsible.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:58 AM on May 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


seriously, rough ashlar, it's like a bad song written for charity:

We are the system. We are the people.

There's no outside anymore. There probably was up until say mid 20th Century. But not anymore. This kind of FUBAR situation has been allowed to happen because we collectively have not been vigilant enough. We haven't fought the Power hard enough. We, the people, are responsible.

Every mature adult with a half a brain knows that the War on Drugs is a crock and that this has been the case for decades. But for whatever reason, it just hasn't been a high enough priority to neutralize the f***ing thing. We got cigarette smoking off airplanes and out of restaurants (in most places anyway), we got folks wearing seat belts, but our tax dollars continue to fund thugs with guns (and the power of arrest) in their absurd quest to, in effect, build a dike in the middle of the ocean.
posted by philip-random at 9:59 AM on May 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


How I hate the War on Drugs. Not only does it result in senseless cruelty (like what happened here) it's a tremendous waste of taxpayer money. And to no effect. I doubt it's made one whit of difference in drug consumption.

I hope Daniel doesn't suffer from permanent kidney failure; having to the rest of his life on dialysis or get a transplant would be a terrible, terrible outcome.

The people who were on duty while Daniel was suffering ought to go to prison. And Daniel ought to sue for every last penny he can.

Regarding this: I do wonder, if the guy had died, if the incident would be quietly covered up. Maybe this happens a few times a year and we never hear about it. Would his family accept that answer? "Mr. and Mrs. Chong, your son died in our custody. Oopsie-daisy! Accidents happen!" There are parents who really don't care about their child that much, or are so cowed by authority that they wouldn't question "accidental death, so sowwy!" and just give up and back down. BUT most families would be suspicious and want to pursue the matter further - at least I hope so. I do think it's strange that no-one enquired after Daniel's whereabouts after four days! Even if he lived alone, wouldn't someone notice and worry?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:24 AM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


if you think the war on drugs is about reducing drug consumption - yes, it's a failure. however, if you realize their goal the whole time was to control populations, it's been a raging success (horribly, sadly).
posted by nadawi at 10:49 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nadawi - yes, it seems that this "war" is about locking up young men of color more than anything. With a euphemistic name to cover up the reality. Especially since it is not middle-class or affluent white people (with the exception of Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black - and one wonders why she was singled out for a long prison term?) who are suffering from the "war."

And speaking of that - would a young white man from a middle-class background have been treated the same way Daniel was? I sincerely wonder if racism was one of the reasons that caused his harsh treatment.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:59 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


i don't think it's always a race thing, just mostly a race thing. it's also used on lower class white males, and hispanic women (especially in oklahoma for some weird reason). there is no denying it disproportionately targets black males though. as to piper kerman - honestly, you put a black man with money laundering and trafficking and his prison sentence will be a lot more than 15 months and it wouldn't be in minimum security.

drug legalization comes when they figure out a better way to enact control (and support the gigantic prison complex).
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on May 5, 2012


The DEA just needs to work out a few glitches in their new Scared Straight program. Once they work out these minor details, I'm sure this new program will bring us within measurable distance of the end of the War on Drugs!
posted by double block and bleed at 11:45 AM on May 5, 2012


Support H.R. 5cr3wup and S.m4k33mp4y

Man, the House needs to run Symantec more regularly.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:55 AM on May 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Rosie M. Banks writes "I do think it's strange that no-one enquired after Daniel's whereabouts after four days!"

This really isn't so weird. If you're single, living on your own, and unemployed or aren't expected at work those four days then it's pretty easy to be out of touch and have no one notice. Plus it's possible people did notice he wasn't around but they also knew he was arrested/detained neatly explaining why they weren't seen.
posted by Mitheral at 6:07 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who thinks that $20 million sounds like a grossly inadequate penalty for a crime of this enormity?
posted by straight at 7:41 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big drug bust or not, nobody in the entire history of the world deserves this kind of torture.

I think there are some mass murderers who would deserve it.

But that raises the question: is the role of government to go around deciding what people "deserve" and then give it to them? My answer to that is a resounding "No!" People do not always get what they deserve in life. The government is never going to fix that problem, and shouldn't even try. What the government should do is treat people with decency.

What was done to him should not be on the list of possible ways for the government to treat anyone. I wouldn't want my tax dollars to pay to do this kind of thing to Timothy McVeigh -- convicted murderer who killed well over 100 people. When a UN tribunal convicted the woman who ordered the Rwandan mass murder and mass rapes, I did not wish for the UN to lock her in a cell for 4 days without food, water, or a bathroom. If we had captured Hitler, I would not have wanted us to do that to him. No matter how bad the person is, I would oppose this kind of treatment.

So, since we're not even talking about a mass murderer, the question of whether he got high, or wanted to get high, or was around drugs, or was around a very very large amount of drugs, or what kinds of drugs they were, is not even worth debating. Yes, you could be right or wrong about those facts, but it's irrelevant -- it's like talking about what the weather was like at the time.

The excuse of "Woops! Accidents happen!" is pathetic.
posted by John Cohen at 10:15 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks that $20 million sounds like a grossly inadequate penalty for a crime of this enormity?

As someone who recently settled a claim, the settlement (or "penalty" as you call it) will never ever be enough to justify the wrong. It just won't. A lot of jurors say they don't like "frivolous" lawsuits (meaning: "I don't want that guy to get a lot of money when I don't get any; hey i've had a hard life too!") and some idiots will do something stupid like assign 50% liability to Chong here for smoking cannabis and getting arrested.

Check out the comments on local newspaper sites, because, hey, those will be your jurors.

I am curious (just b/c I've been in the process so long) what you would ask for? It sorta has to be realistic or you're going to look stupid ($1 billion!), which will also hurt your case.

I just don't understand why they would make a claim now. Shouldn't they wait until the recovery is "complete" and they know the extent of the long-term damage? It's certainly not impossible that Daniel develops further medical problems or suffers serious PTSD.

Can anyone explain why his lawyers would make a claim so quickly? What's the rush? My cynical side is that the long-term physical damage isn't severe (which is a good thing). There is certainly a shitload of pain and suffering, but that's a lot harder to put a $ figure on compared to specific physical damages...

it's irrelevant -- it's like talking about what the weather was like at the time.

He was at the house to engage in illegal behavior. I think it's relevant in that some jurors will be affected by that decision and possibly assign him some liability for the incident. It doesn't matter criminally or logically, but it will sure as hell matter to a jury, and possibly to a mediator or arbiter. (IASNAL)

My guess is he gets something in the low millions. I mean I was looking at some verdicts of cases of seemingly obvious negligence where the plaintiff ended up paraplegic or quadriplegic. They're getting like $800K-$1.2M. $20 million seems like a huge stretch here. It would be all punitive damages (which might be possible; again, NAL).
posted by mrgrimm at 4:00 PM on May 7, 2012


He was at the house to engage in illegal behavior.

I don't see how that even gets into evidence unless his side are complete idiots.
posted by unSane at 4:27 PM on May 7, 2012


I don't see how that even gets into evidence unless his side are complete idiots.

Huh? Again, NAL, but it's a civil case. How is the reason for his detention not relevant to the case?

I'd really like to hear a lawyer's opinion on the suit, but I can't find much ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:05 AM on May 8, 2012


How is the reason for his detention not relevant to the case?

How is it relevant? The defendant would have to argue that his reason for being detained somehow mitigated or excused whatever damages he suffered. You can't just randomly introduce stuff into evidence because you feel like it.

If the plaintiff argued that he'd been wrongly detained, it would open up the door, but if they aren't arguing about the reasons for his detention but the conditions of his detention I don't see how it gets in.

Remember, he was never arrested and not charged with anything. What happened in the house is completely irrelevant to him being left for days.

I'm the judge. Persuade me that you should be allowed to introduce it.
posted by unSane at 10:20 AM on May 8, 2012


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