Over-zealous law enforcement can take many forms. Arresting someone without cause is certainly one of them. But detaining someone and then forgetting for five days that the person was in detention?
It sounds outlandish, but that is what happened recently to a California college student named Daniel Chong.
Federal agents investigating allegations of drug crime picked up Chong for questioning. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had raided a house where he was spending the night.
Chong was then kept in a holding cell for five days - without food or water and sometimes in nearly complete darkness.
The intense experience of unexpected, utter isolation was psychologically devastating for Daniel Chong, "I didn't stay sane," he told a reporter for NPR. "Eventually, by the second or third night . . I went completely insane and was just trying to get a grip on reality, on what's happening to me."
Chong's emotional condition was so dire that he thought about committing suicide by using his glasses to cut into his arm. He screamed and kicked the door, yet no one came.
The DEA agents who arrested him had told Chong that he would be released and given a ride home. But he ended up languishing in a cell for five days until he was finally let go.
Willliam R. Sherman, the acting special agent in charge of the DEA's San Diego office, offered an apology. But it came in the form of a statement, not in person.
Chong has filed a lawsuit against the DEA, seeking extensive damages.
Source: "Student Forgotten in Holding Cell: 'Changes Have To Be Made'," Eyder Peralta, NPR, 5-3-12