Back in the spring of this year the Phonesavanh family became the
victims of the war on drugs. [WARNING: graphic images in linked diary.]
Their baby boy, Bounkham (Bou Bou), was severely burned, his face and body ravaged by a SWAT team's flash bang that went into his crib as he slept.
At approximately 2 a.m. May 28, the family awakened to a blinding flash and loud explosion in their bedroom. A Special Response Team (aka SWAT team) from the Habersham County Sheriff's Office burst unannounced into the bedroom where they were sleeping. According to police reports, Habersham Deputy Charles Long threw a “flash-bang” grenade – a diversionary device used by police and military – into the room. It landed in Bou Bou’s pack-and-play.
“Bou Bou started screaming,” recalls Alecia Phonesavanh. “I immediately went to grab him.”
But Alecia says Habersham Deputy Jason Stribling picked up the child before she could reach him. “I kept telling him, ‘Just give me my son. He's scared. He needs me. The officer wouldn't. And then he walked out of the room with [Bou Bou] and I didn't see him again.”
What they didn’t realize at the time was that the blast from the flash-bang grenade severely burned Bou Bou’s face and torso and collapsed his left lung. Alecia says the officers wouldn’t allow her to see her child before he was whisked away in an ambulance.
The only good news is that Bou Bou survived. Barely.
Bou Bou was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta where doctors placed him in a medically induced coma. “His chest wall had torn down to muscle,” says Dr. Walter Ingram, head of Grady’s burn trauma unit. “And it tore his face down to bone, down to his teeth.”
It turns out that the SWAT team, using a controversial "no knock" warrant, were looking for an estranged family member who might be selling meth. Well, he wasn't there. Bou Bou lay in the hospital for five weeks, in an induced coma. Like rats leaving a ship first the judge who had granted the no knock warrant retired. And then:
The drug task force that gathered that intelligence was disbanded four months after the raid that injured Bou Bou Phonesavanh. It also happened to be the day after “20/20” arrived in Habersham County to investigate.
Bou Bou has obviously had to have numerous surgeries to repair the extensive damage done by the state of Georgia. But Georgia doesn't want to pay. They cite a "gratuity" law, saying it prohibits them from compensating the family.
As you surmised, the prohibition against governmental gratuities has been interpreted to preclude direct grant payments to private entities in order to induce economic development. It states, "Except as otherwise provided in the Constitution, (1) the General Assembly shall not have the power to grant any donation or gratuity or to forgive any debt or obligation owing to the public." Ga. Const., Art. III, Sec. VI, Para. VI(a).
Not for the public good. Just for this little baby and his greedy family. See, when Georgia gives out $25 million in tax credits for video game developers
it's because these are job creators, making Georgia strong like bull.
Regrettably, CCP Games announced today that it plans to lay off 56 employees in the Atlanta office and shut down production on the World of Darkness MMO game, which was in development for roughly eight years. Those who remain in CCP's Atlanta, Georgia office will work to support the company's long-running MMO game Eve Online.
The Phonesavanhs are deep in debt now
Who is responsible for Bou Bou Phonesavanh’s injuries may still be a question for the courts to decide. The Phonesavanh family still has the option to file a civil lawsuit. And a federal investigation is now underway by the office of Sally Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
There are quite a few people "responsible" for Bou Bou's injuries. I think we know exactly what went wrong. I think we all know what is right in this situation as well; and I think we all know what Georgia can do with its "gratuity" laws.
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