Toddler “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh Severely Burned When Georgia SWAT Police Throw Stun Grenade Into Crib
A 19-month-old toddler is fighting for his life after being critically injured when Georgia police tossed a stun grenade into his crib during a botched drug raid.
Police from multiple jurisdictions were looking for a man who sold methamphetamine to an undercover officer on Tuesday evening when they raided a Habersham County home in the early morning hours on Wednesday, WSB-TV reports.
Alecia Phonesavanh was visiting her sister-in-law at the home with her husband and four children, including 19-month-old son Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, after the family’s Wisconsin home recently burned down. They were asleep when the police SWAT team burst into the home on a no-knock warrant in search of the alleged drug suspect, Wanis Thometheva.
As they entered, police tossed a stun grenade into the home to distract the occupants. It landed in the playpen where Bounkham was sleeping.
“[It] exploded on his pillow right in his face,” Alecia told WSB-TV.
“It blew open his face and his chest,” she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Everybody was asleep. It’s not like anyone was trying to fight.”
Boukham suffered severe burns and was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where he was placed in a medically induced coma. His parents told reporters he has a 50/50 chance of surviving.
“He’s in the burn unit,” Alecia told WSB-TV. “We go up to see him and his whole face is ripped open. He has a big cut on his chest.”
“It’s my baby. He’s only a baby,” the distraught mother added. “He didn’t deserve any of this.”
“We have nothing to do with this (drugs),” father Bounkham “Bou” Phonesavanh told the Journal-Constitution.
Cornelia Police Chief Rick Darby said officers had purchased drugs at the address where the incident occurred and that a multi-jurisdictional drug unit issued a warrant and dispatched a SWAT team to the home at around 3 a.m. Darby added that officers did not know there were children in the home.
“There was no clothes, no toys, nothing to indicate that there was children present in the home,” Darby told WSB-TV. “If there had been then we’d have done something different.”
Alecia contested Darby’s assertion.
“They say there were no toys, [but] there is plenty of stuff,” she told the Journal-Constitution. “Their shoes were laying all over.”
Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell defended the SWAT team’s actions, calling Bounkham’s injury “a terrible accident.”
“The last thing you want is law enforcement to injure someone innocent,” Terrell told the Journal-Constitution. “There was no malicious act performed. It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen.”
Thometheva was not at the home where the raid occurred. The suspect, who has a previous drug arrest history, was later arrested at another home and faces a felony drug charge for distributing methamphetamine.
The Phonesavanhs do not have health insurance. A family friend set up this fundraising page to help cover the injured toddler’s medical bills.