Daniel Chong, a university student in the city of San Diego, has received $4.1 million from the US government after he was abandoned for more than four days in a prison cell, his lawyer said.
Daniel Chong, now 25, said he drank his urine to stay alive, tried to carve a message to his mother on his arm and hallucinated.
He was held in a drug raid in 2012, but told he would not be charged. Nobody returned to his cell for four days.
The justice department’s inspector is now investigating what happened.
Daniel Chong said he slid a shoelace under the door and screamed to get attention before five or six people found him covered in his faeces in the cell at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) San Diego headquarters.
After Daniel Chong was rescued, he spent five days in hospital recovering from dehydration, kidney failure, cramps and a perforated oesophagus. He also lost 15 lb (7 kg).
Daniel Chong was one of nine people detained in the raid in April 2012. Authorities determined that they would not pursue charges after questioning him.
One of Daniel Chong’s lawyers said a police officer then put him in the holding cell and told him: “We’ll come get you in a minute.”
Daniel Chong said he thought he was forgotten by mistake.
“It sounded like it was an accident – a really, really bad, horrible accident,” he said.
The 5-by-10-foot cell had no windows and Daniel Chong had no food or water while he was trapped inside for four-and-a-half days.
Daniel Chong said he started hallucinating on the third day.
He urinated on a metal bench so he could have something to drink. He also unsuccessfully tried to set off a fire sprinkler to draw attention of the DEA authorities.
“I didn’t just sit there quietly. I was kicking the door yelling,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
“I even put some shoestrings, shoelaces through the crack of the door for visual signs. I didn’t stay still, no, I was screaming.”
At one point, Daniel Chong admitted, he thought he was going to die. He broke his eyeglasses by biting into them and tried to carve a “Sorry Mom” farewell message. He managed to finish an “S”.
DEA spokeswoman Allison Price confirmed that the $4.1 million settlement had been reached, without providing further details, according to the AP.
The incident prompted the head of the DEA to issue a public apology last May, saying he was “deeply troubled” by the incident.
Daniel Chong’s lawyer said that as a result of the incident the DEA had introduced new policies for detention, including checking cells daily and installing cameras inside them.
Daniel Chong, now an economics student at the University of California, says he plans to buy his parents a house.