A Georgia police team executing a search warrant on a suspected drug house tossed a stun grenade into a toddler’s crib, leaving the boy severely burned and in a medically induced coma.
The 19-month-old boy, Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanhs, was sleeping in his bed when police burst through the door looking for Wanis Thometheva, who they believe was selling meth.
The suspect wasn’t home when police arrived at his Habersham County home, but officers did not know this as they approached the same door where they said drugs had been purchased. The door, which led to a remodeled bedroom, was locked, so police forced it open and then tossed a flash grenade inside.
It landed in the crib where the 19-month-old boy was sleeping.
“It landed in his playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face,” said the boy’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh.
Police said they had no idea there were children in the home, or that the toddler was sleeping inside along with his parents and three older sisters. The family was visiting from Wisconsin.
“The last thing you want is law enforcement to injure someone innocent,” Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There was no malicious act performed. It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen.”
Terrell added that the distraction device, also known as a flash bang grenade, is a common tactic when executive high-risk search warrants.
“It distracts them so you can make entrance,” Terrell said.
Family members said the toddler hit by the police grenade was left in terrible condition.
“It blew open his face and his chest,” the boy’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told The AJC outside Grady Memorial Hospital. “Everybody was asleep. It’s not like anyone was trying to fight.”
The boy was treated at the scene before being transported to the hospital. He remains in a medically induced coma and family members said they aren’t sure if he will survive.
His parents said they are angry that police would use such a dangerous weapon when everyone was asleep and the suspect wasn’t even there.
“We have nothing to do with this (drugs),” father Bounkham “Bou” Phonesavanh said.
Friends are now stepping in to help the toddler hurt by the police grenade. One of them has stated an online fund-raising page to help the family pay for his medical care.