A San Diego college
student detained for several days in a county detention facility cell is
seeking an attorney and may be considering filing a civil lawsuit,
sources tell NBCSanDiego.
The 24-year old UCSD
engineering student was left in the cell for five days without food or
water, seemingly forgotten by the federal authorities who detained him.
He was one of seven people
detained after a Drug Enforcement Administration ecstasy raid in
University City on April 21, according to a DEA statement.
See video, read the original report at NBCSanDiego.com
"The individual was at the house by his own admission," the DEA confirmed Monday.
During the raid,
authorities said, they confiscated ecstasy, marijuana, prescription
medication, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and a white powdery substance that
was described as a synthetic hallucinogen. They said they also seized
numerous weapons, including a Russian rifle, handguns and thousands of
rounds of ammunition.
"Seven suspects were
brought back to county detention." One was released, but "accidentally
left in one of the cells," a statement from the DEA read.
The defendants were
brought back to the DEA office after the raid and processed. The
suspects were moved around the five cells at the detention facility
during the proceeding. None were strip or body cavity searched, the
A law enforcement source told NBC 7 that the student was handcuffed and held in a room no larger than the average bathroom.
say a worker at the DEA discovered the man by chance about five days
later after hearing strange noises coming from the holding cells.
When authorities with the
DEA discovered that the student was still in the cell, they immediately
called emergency medical services. UTSanDiego.com reported that San
Diego fire officials said paramedics were called April 25.
In the cell, the detainee told authorities he found a white powdery substance, which he took, the DEA statement said.
Later testing revealed the substance was methamphetamine.
Sources close to the
student say he nearly died of kidney failure in Sharp hospital due to
the dehydration he experienced. He was treated for several days and
He is not currently under arrest, authorities with the DEA said.
San Diego defense attorney Gretchen Von Helms says the victim could get millions if he files a lawsuit.
"In all my years of
practice I've never heard of the DEA or any federal government employee
simply forgetting about someone that they have in their care," she said.
"There has to be repercussions if people do not follow the safety and the care when they have a human being in their custody."
Former federal prosecutor
John Kirby said he’s familiar with the holding cells at the DEA office.
He told NBC 7 San Diego that the rooms have no bathrooms and the suspect
likely went without food or water.
Given his familiarity with
the DEA, Kirby said this incident is “inconceivable” because every
detainee is processed, and it would be hard to get lost in the shuffle.
“You talk about whether
they might have done it intentionally. No way, because somebody's career
is done over this,” added Kirby.
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