Bounkham Phonesavanh was sleeping when a SWAT team burst into the room where he was staying, tossing a grenade that fell right into the baby’s crib and nearly ended his life.
The incident has since drawn national controversy, including criticism that the police squad raided the Atlanta-area home without knowledge that there was an entire family staying inside. But as the issue draws attention, baby Bounkham Phonesavanh still battles for his life.
Now the internet has responded, with a fundraiser collecting over $33,000 to help with the boy’s medical expenses.
Bounkham Phonesavanh recently came out of a medically induced coma, but faces a long recovery. Doctors say he suffered severe burns and was left with a hole in his chest. They are still not able to say the long-term prognosis for the boy affectionately known as “Bou Bou.”
The case continues to draw attention weeks after it took place. The boy’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, said police raided the house in full military garb over suspicion of just a small amount of drugs.
The suspect they were looking for — the nephew of Alecia’s husband — did not even live in the home and wasn’t there when the raid took place.
Alecia said police also ignored obvious signs that a family could be inside, including a minivan parked in the driveway and toys in the yard. She added that the family had only just moved in from Wisconsin, where their house had burned down.
Alecia also criticized police for using military tactics and weapons on innocent civilians.
“Flashbang grenades were created for soldiers to use during battle,” she wrote in a piece for Salon. “When they explode, the noise is so loud and the flash is so bright that anyone close by is temporarily blinded and deafened. It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns.”
Alecia added that police wouldn’t even let her tend to her badly wounded son.
“I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him,” she wrote. “He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.”
The fundraiser for Bounkham Phonesavanh can be found here. The goal is $100,000.