The parents of the toddler burned by a flash grenade in a May police raid have been left with a $1 million medical bill they say they cannot possibly afford to pay. Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh’s young son Bounkham Jr., who is called “Bou Bou” by his family, suffered critical burns to his face and chest during a SWAT raid gone wrong.
The family was staying with Bounkham’s sister in Cornelia, Georgia, after their family home in Wisconsin was destroyed by fire. Along with Bou Bou, the family has three other children and they were all staying in a garage that had been converted into a bedroom. As ABC News reported, it was early in the morning on May 28 when the couple’s nightmare began after a “no-knock” warrant was carried out on the house by the Habersham Sheriff’s Department.
Bou Bou Phonesavanh before and after his injuries.
[Image from ABC News][/caption]
The entire family was awoken around 2 a.m. when a loud explosion and flash went off in the bedroom. One of the deputies, Charles Long, had thrown a “flashbang” grenade, which is meant as a diversionary tactic that allows police to get into a room. Unfortunately, the grenade had landed in the toddler’s pack-and-play.
When Bou Bou started screaming, his mother went to get him, but was prevented from doing so by the deputies. As reported by the New York Daily News, Deputy Jason Stribling picked up the boy and left the room with him. The couple was told their son was fine and that he had lost a tooth.
While Bou Bou was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, his parents were detained and questioned for at least two hours before being allowed to go to the hospital. When they finally arrived at the hospital, the couple found that their son was in a medically induced coma and doctors told them their son’s true condition.
Dr. Walter Ingram, the head of the burn trauma unit at Grady Memorial, revealed that when Bou Bou was brought in, “his chest wall had torn down to muscle. And it tore his face down to bone, down to his teeth.” Bou Bou was in a coma for at least five weeks and he has had several reconstructive surgeries, but still remains disfigured.
The Inquisitr reported that a Habersham County grand jury had declined to charge the deputies involved in the raid with any crimes. However, several of those involved have since resigned and the drug unit they belonged to disbanded. The warrant was granted to search for 30-year-old Wanis Thonetheva, the Phonesavanh’s nephew, who was wanted on suspicion of selling methamphetamine.
Now the couple has a million dollar hospital bill and, as the mother stated, no way to pay it.
“Before this, we didn’t owe anybody anything. And now, after all this, they have completely financially crippled us.”
Local authorities refuse to pay any of the medical bills and the couple is considering filing a lawsuit to recover damages. The case is now being investigated by federal authorities.
A website has been set-up to take donations to help with medical expenses for Bou Bou.
[Image from ABC News]