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Man wins settlement after being locked away and forgotten about

The following story may not have occurred here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but the extreme circumstances of an imprisoned man who was locked away and forgotten about — literally — will resonate with people locally and nationally. A 25-year-old college student in California was arrested on suspicion of drug crimes by the Drug Enforcement Agency in April 2012. He was locked away in a jail cell, but it appeared the ordeal was going to be over before it even got going. An officer told the young man “hang tight, we’ll come get you in a minute,” as the DEA looked to drop the charges. So the young man waited. And waited. And waited. Hours passed. Then a day. No one came to the cell. The young man started to panic. Another day passed. He had no access to food or water, no toilets or medical care. Another day. He began hallucinating and tried to tamper with a fire sprinkler just to get water. Still nothing. On the fourth day of solitude, the young man was in crisis. He said he had accepted the fact he was going to die there. Thankfully, after four-and-a-half days, the police found him. The young man’s kidneys were failing; he was severely dehydrated; and he had been tormented beyond belief. This man understandably sued the DEA for the treatment, and his lawsuit yielded a $4.1 million settlement for the awful handling of his case. No one has been punished in the matter, as it has been deemed an “accident.” Obviously, this is an extreme incident. But there are far more minor incidents where people are improperly treated while in police custody or there rights are violated during the investigation process. These incidents can result in dismissed charges or reduced penalties, depending on the situation. Source: Associated Press, “US to pay $4 million to San Diego student abandoned in cell for 4 days without food, water,” Alicia A. Caldwell, July 30, 2013

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