Horrific story young man’s detention grabs national headlines

There are likely many people in St. Paul who have heard the story of a now-25-year-old man who nearly died while in a federal Drug Enforcement Administration cell. The young man had been arrested as part of a drug raid and was questioned before an officer working with the DEA told him he was not going to be charged. The officer put him in a 5-by-10-foot holding cell, assuring him that he would only be a minute. Instead, the young man spent the next 4 1/2 days in the cell and nearly died.

The federal government’s war on drugs is, without doubt, pervasive. The government frequently partners with Minnesota officers to find people suspected of using drugs and charging them with drug crimes. When stories like these emerge, however, many people question just how dangerous this obsession with fighting drugs is.

For four days, the young man was kept in a cell without any windows, without food and without water. Throughout the ordeal, he remained in handcuffs, and when police officers finally opened his cell, he was suffering from a number of ailments. In addition to being covered in his own feces, he needed medical attention for kidney failure, a perforated esophagus, dehydration and cramps.

This is certainly not how most drug raids happen in Minneapolis, and this should never happen again after the DEA introduced several new rules and regulations. At the same time, something like this could always happen again, especially if the federal government continues to perseverate on prosecuting people for something as little as marijuana possession.

Source: Star Tribune, “US to pay $4 million to San Diego student abandoned in cell for 4 days without food, water,” Alicia A. Caldwell, July 30, 2013

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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