On June 1, 2014, A Sheep No More reported on Bounkham Phonesavanh, known as Bou, a 19 months old who was asleep in his crib when Cornelia, Georgia SWAT team broke open the front door in the early morning hours and tossed a flash-bang grenade into his crib during the execution of a “no-knock” warrant. His mother, father, and three sisters were in the room as well.
This put Bouis in a medically induced coma, and the boy’s mother told reporters that he had about a 50-percent chance of survival from the injuries.
Earlier statements from police revealed that they saw no indications that there were children in the house. The mother says that isn’t true.
“They say there were no toys,” Alecia Phonesavanh told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There is plenty of stuff. Their shoes were laying all over.”
SWAT team members executed the no-knock warrant after receiving a tip from an informant that he had bought methamphetamine from a man named Wanis Thometheva earlier that day. According to the report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, police learned that the suspected drug dealer was found in possession of a weapon when arrested on a prior drug charge.
“That’s the threat he uses to those who don’t do what he wants,” Sheriff Terrell reportedly told the newspaper.
Thometheva wasn’t present when police entered the house. The Phonesavanh family were there, asleep. They are visiting Georgia only because of fire damage to their home in Wisconsin.
“We have nothing to do with this (drugs),” Bounkham Phonesavanh (the father), told the Atlanta paper.
Upon discovering that the target of the warrant was not at the home, police took notice of the serious injuries to the toddler and began trying to minimize the harm.
Sheriff Terrell told the newspaper that a medic began CPR before the child was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital. The injuries were severe enough for him to have been airlifted to the hospital, but foggy conditions made a helicopter flight “unsafe,” according to the sheriff.
“It blew open his face and his chest,” the boy’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution outside Grady Memorial Hospital. “Everybody was asleep. It’s not like anyone was trying to fight.”
The rest of the article can be seen HERE.
UPDATE ON BOUNKHAM PHONESAVANH, KNOWN AS BOU:
‘Militarized’ SWAT Teams Under Scrutiny as Toddler Recovers From Grenade
Per NBC News, Police SWAT teams are coming under growing pressure after a 19-month-old boy was critically injured by a SWAT grenade in his crib in Georgia.
The boy, Bounkham Phonesavanh, known as Bou, is undergoing rehabilitation back home in Wisconsin this week after he was released from an Atlanta-area hospital following more than a month of treatment, which included putting him in a medically induced coma.
The incident is one of several highlighted in a new report from the American civil Liberties Union objecting to the “militarization” of U.S. police agencies, especially SWAT teams.
“Across the country, heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are forcing their way into people’s homes in the middle of the night, often deploying explosive devices such as flashbang grenades to temporarily blind and deafen residents, simply to serve a search warrant on the suspicion that someone may be in possession of a small amount of drugs,” the report (PDF) charges.
“Neighborhoods are not war zones, and our police officers should not be treating us like wartime enemies. However, the ACLU encountered this type of story over and over when studying the militarization of state and local law enforcement agencies,” it says.
The ACLU said it studied 800 confrontations in which SWAT teams were deployed across 20 local, state and federal police agencies in 2011 and 2012.
About 80 percent of the missions were launched to serve search warrants — not to deal with active shooters or barricaded fugitives, it found. Those dangerous circumstances were present in only 7 percent of the SWAT raids the ACLU studied.
More than half of the assignments, 54 percent, involved suspects described as black or Latino, far above those groups’ representation in society in U.S. society, revealing stark, often extreme, racial disparities in the use of SWAT locally,” the nonprofit civil rights group said.
In the raid that injured Bou, officers were trying to find his nephew, who was suspected of making a $50 drug sale, the ACLU said.
Bou’s father, also named Bounkahm, told the organization that he was born in Laos and remembers communist soldiers breaking down the door of his childhood home.
“It felt like that,” he said, according to the ACLU. “This is America, and you’re supposed to be safe here, but you’re not even safe around the cops.”