ATLANTA - A family says a SWAT team raided their home in the middle of the night and seriously injured a 19-month-old boy with a stun grenade. Alecia Phonesavanh told Channel 2's Ryan Young her child is at the Grady Memorial Hospital burn unit, and is in a medically induced coma...
"It's my baby. He's only a baby. He didn't deserve any of this," Phonesavanh said.
Phonesavanh told Young the grenade landed in the child's crib; she showed him a photo of a charred portable crib.
What were police doing entering a residence at 3:00 AM when they apparently had no idea of who else lived there or might be present?
Cornelia police... said a multijurisdictional drug unit issued a warrant and organized the SWAT operation.There are just so many things wrong with this, from the whole idea of a no-knock warrant, to the lack of intelligence about who lived in or visited the house, to the sanity of the judge who issued said warrant, to the bizarre notion of storming into someplace at 3:00 AM when someone who they claim to know has weapons is present. Couldn't they just have arrested him when he went to pick up some milk at the supermarket?
Deputies said they bought drugs from the house, and came back with a no-knock warrant to arrest a man known to have drugs and weapons.
"There was no clothes, no toys, nothing to indicate that there was children present in the home. If there had been then we'd have done something different," Darby said.
"Everyone's sleeping. There's a loud bang and a bright light," Phonesavanh said. "The cops threw that grenade in the door without looking first, and it landed right in the playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face."
Cornelia police Chief Darby told Channel 2's Wendy Corona that the entire unit is very broken up about the incident.You hideously burn a 19 month old child and you're "broken up" about it? Here's an more sensible atonement strategy: Empty all your bank accounts and pay for the child's medical care.
The Phonesavanh family told Young they have no insurance and have set up a fund to pay for medical expenses.One of the comments from that GoFundMe page:
The maiming of a toddler is indeed a high price to pay for affecting one of 1.6 million drug arrests made per year. Imagine doing your job, which would include--police work. This means staking out the areas the suspect is known to frequent, waiting for the suspect to emerge in public and affecting a traditional arrest. The manpower required for these apprehensions is almost always less than that of a SWAT operation, where dozens of officers are dispatched with expensive equipment to raid a house where the suspect may or may not be there.Matt Yglesias, a blogger usually more concerned with economics than police insanity, was sufficiently outraged to write a post about this, and conclude with:
Safety is a valid concern for LE. However, it is common sense that the safest way to arrest a person entails at the very least putting eyes on the suspect before dispatching a flash grenade into a residence and than breaking down the door.
Imagine a fire department failing to rescue a toddler from a smoldering house based on the rationale that firefighters may be injured if their air tanks fail to properly operate. We'd say sometimes you just have to be brave. Yet, too often, we see LE in a different light. They go in with overwhelming force using military tactics to offset a "potential" threat that rarely materializes. When things go badly and innocent people are harmed (which happens far more often), they excuse themselves for their actions in the name of "safety." Sometimes you have to be brave. When you're not little children suffer for it.
Therefore, let us call the reprehensible actions of these officers for what it is: Cowardice.
...a growing trend of police using SWAT teams and military tactics for cases that never would have warranted that treatment before...Not only do we lock lots of people up, throwing away the key, and condemn millions more to live on the edges of society because of arrest records and felony convictions; we kill, maim and horribly burn innocents - "collateral damage" - as fallout from of a failed War on Drugs perpetuated by a Prison-Industrial complex that would shrink by half if we could ever find the courage to declare victory and leave. Which we won't.
An FBI SWAT team conducted a raid in Buffalo on suspicion of child porn possession, only to find out that the real perpetrator was totally innocent; the suspect in question had merely borrowed the place's WiFi connection. A SWAT team raided a DJ in Atlanta on suspicion of copyright violations. A Gibson Guitar factory in Tennessee was raided with a SWAT team on suspicion that they weren't the wood they imported for their guitars wasn't treated properly. Plenty of innocent people, from 80-year-old Isaac Singletary to 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda to 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston, have been killed in SWAT raids.
7:41 PM PT: Suspect wasn't even there...
The mother of a 19-month-old boy critically injured when a police device was tossed into his bed in Habersham County said Friday there is no way officers should not have known there were children in the house...http://www.ajc.com/...
Thometheva was not at the home at the time of the raid but was later arrested at another house on a felony drug charge of distribution of meth.
“We have nothing to do with this ( drugs),” father Bounkham “Bou” Phonesavanh said... The family was only supposed to be in Georgia temporarily after a fire at their Wisconsin home, the Phonesavanhs said.
10:01 PM PT:
Cornelia, GA Police Info
Chief Rick Darby
Fax (706) 776-3673
Sat May 31, 2014 at 8:50 AM PT: DA will investigate.
“The nurse explained it to me. His laceration on his chest is pretty deep, down to the muscle. They can’t close it up yet because all of the charring from the explosion,” Phonesavanh said.http://www.wsbtv.com/...
“He still needs help breathing. He’ll need that help for a while. He has a big bruise on his lung from the impact. His lung is useless right now” Phonesavanh added. "As long as we have faith and he's got lots of love, love will make anybody strong."
The Phonesavanh family has hired an attorney who has asked for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the case and immediate suspension of the deputies involved.