The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been directed to pay a heavy fine of $4.1 million, for a gross lapse in protocol which almost killed a 25-year-old student behind bars last year.
Daniel Chong, a student of University of California, San Diego was left unattended for nearly five days without any food or water which had almost led to his death.
He was arrested on 21 April, 2012 by DEA during a drug raid on a house. After five days, authorities opened the windowless cell door to find him in a critical state.
According to Chong's lawyer Gene Iredale, Chong went through severe traumatic stress, had to drink his own urine to sustain himself and had lost close to 15 pounds. The thought of dying made him carve a message 'Sorry Mom' on his wrist with glass shards from his spectacles.
"It was an accident, a really bad, horrible accident," Chong was quoted saying by the Los Angeles Times.
The helpless student was left handcuffed and made desperate attempts to draw attention by screaming and sliding his shoelace under the cell door of his 5 by 10 foot room which did not have any food, water or toilet facilities. When rescued, he was found covered in faeces.
Chong had suffered from hallucination, muscle deterioration, kidney failure, breathing difficulty when taken to hospital, where he was admitted for five days.
He had initially filed a $20 million lawsuit against DEA which had been settled at $4.1 million on Tuesday.
"To its credit, the government has responded by acknowledging responsibility, apologizing personally to Daniel and instituting changes in policies regarding safety checks for prisoners in temporary holding cells at DEA facilities," his lawyer Iredale told Reuters.
"What happened to Daniel Chong should never happen to any human being on the face of the planet," he added.
Chong's other attorney, Julia Yoo, said her client's case resulted with, "the DEA placed a nationwide policy that calls on each agent at satellite offices to check on the well-being of prisoners in their cells on a daily basis."
The spokesperson of DEA could not be reached after the settlement. But a day after the mishap, it had previously accepted its lapse and had rendered an apology.