Remember cute little toddler, Bounkham Phonesavah, who was burned and put in a coma after a SWAT Drug Raid by police in Habersham County, Georgia? Here's a reminder if you don't recall the story:
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.The family whose child was hurt so horrifically by this no knock police assault had no connection to the individual police were seeking. They were from Wisconsin, and just happened to be in the Atlanta area visiting their sister-in-law. Certainly, there was no need by the local police to carry out a military style assault on the home at three o'clock in the morning merely to arrest a low level drug dealer.
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. [...]
"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."
Officers were executing a search warrant after a confidential informant claimed he bough $50 in drugs from a 20-year-old who lived at the residence, where the boy’s family had been staying since their own house burned down.At the time, the police chief, Rick Darby, made a bunch of excuses for what happened, though he did say his SWAT team members were "very broken up about the incident." Well, apparently that sympathy for the family and their wrongfully wounded baby boy has its limits, at least as far as the Halbersham County officials are concerned. Though the family has no means to pay for the medical expenses of their child's stay at two separate hospitals, the county is holding firm and defending their decision not to "make things right" for this innocent child who suffered so grievously from the actions of their militarized police force which could have easily arrested the alleged drug dealer without the necessity of what amounts to a military attack on US citizens.
Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as "Baby Boo Boo," spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team's flash grenade exploded near his face. The toddler was just 19-months-old and asleep in the early morning hours of May 28. SWAT officers threw the device into his home while executing a search warrant for a drug suspect.Well, God forbid the county violate the law to pay for the life threatening injuries their SWAT team. Of course, at all times they must conduct themselves with all due concern for their self-proclaimed legal obligations not to pay for the harm caused to an innocent child by their police department's decision to treat the arrest of a drug offender like a special forces operation in a war zone.
Habersham County officials are defending their decision not to pay, but the child's family isn't giving up.
Habersham County’s attorney provided the following statement, saying: "The question before the board was whether it is legally permitted to pay these expenses. After consideration of this question following advice of counsel, the board of commissioners has concluded that it would be in violation of the law for it to do so."
Oh, and by the way, the person for whom they obtained an arrest warrant justifying this absurd and tragic assault was not found at the home where Baby Boo Boo almost died as a result of the SWAT team's use of a stun grenade without anyb prior warning having been given.
The SWAT team did not find the person it was looking for in the home. An investigation is underway into the handling of the case. Meanwhile, Boo Boo and his family have moved back to Wisconsin. Supporters are planning a fundraiser for him in August.But hey, at least the police chief has promised they will do better the next time his SWAT guys blast their way into a private residence seeking to arrest - well whomever.
“You're trying to minimize anything that could go wrong and in this case the greatest thing went wrong,” [Chief] Darby said. “Is it going to make us be more careful in the next one? Yes ma'am, it is. It's gonna make us double question.”What a comfort that must be to the Phonesavah family as they struggle to pay for the life long harm their child has incurred, and the trauma they suffered.