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Toddler Burned by Police Grenade Ready to Go Home

Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh plan to return to Wisconsin later this week with their children. Their toddler was critically injured when a police grenade was thrown in his crib during a drug raid.

Bounkham Phonesavanh, nicknamed “Bou Bou,” was critically injured when a SWAT team's grenade blew up in his crib. Credit: Screenshot from WSB TV
Bounkham Phonesavanh, nicknamed “Bou Bou,” was critically injured when a SWAT team's grenade blew up in his crib. Credit: Screenshot from WSB TV

A 19-month-old boy who was critically injured when a flash-bang grenade detonated in his crib during a Georgia police raid should go home to Wisconsin this week.
 
On Monday, Bounkham Phonesavanh had his first meal with his family since the May 28 raid, reports WSB TV. The family and their lawyers will hold a farewell breakfast Wednesday for the toddler, nicknamed "Bou Bou," at Delightful Eatz in southeast Atlanta. 

Alecia Phonesevanh and Bounkham Phonesevanh, the parents of the injured boy, have denied they knew of drug sales at the Habersham County house where they stayed.

In late May the child was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition, according to a previous Patch story. The grenade was meant to distract residents of the house suspected of selling drugs, but when it exploded on Bou Bou’s pillow, he was severely burned and spent weeks in a medically induced coma. His mother told WSB he suffered a brain injury from the explosion.

The family was staying at Alecia Phonesevanh’s sister-in-law’s after their own family home in Wisconsin was lost in a fire.

“We want to make it clear to the world that we love our children and would never put them in harms way by involving ourselves with drugs,” Alecia Phonesevanh said last month, according to CBS 46. “I never saw any drugs or drug activity in that house.”

Alecia and Bounkham Phonesevanh are advocating for change to no-knock warrants, pushing for changes to how police handle them and criteria necessary for judges to give approval, according to CBS 46.

“Since that night I can still hear the explosions in my ears and our daughter still wakes up with nightmares,” Bounkham Phonesevanh said, according to CBS 46. “The officers who hurt our baby that night have shown no compassion.”

Police believed drugs such as methamphetamine were being sold from the home by Wanis Thometheva, 30, Bounkham Phonesevanh’s nephew. A team of SWAT officers with a no-knock warrant went into the house late at night to arrest Thometheva, Patch reported. Cornelia police Chief Rick Darby said officers had previously purchased drugs from Thometheva at the home.

According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, investigators had previously discovered that Thometheva had weapons in the home, including an AK-47.

Chief Darby denied any knowledge or evidence of children in the home.

“There was no clothes, no toys, nothing to indicate that there was children present in the home,” Darby told WSB. “If there had been then we’d have done something different.”

Alecia Phonesevanh told AJC.com that the officers would have had to seen evidence of children in the house. Bou Bou has three older sisters ages 3, 5, and 7.

“There is plenty of stuff,” she said. “Their shoes were laying all over.”

Kara Dansky, senior counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Huffington Post that SWAT teams were created in the 1960s to handle hostage-taking cases and active shooters.

“We’re seeing increasingly that police are using SWAT teams to do raids of people’s homes often in low-level drug cases. This sometimes causes an escalated risk of violence as we saw in this case,” Dansky said. She admitted that tactics used by law enforcement are sometimes misused.

Family friend Holly Benton Wickersham of Janesville, WI, set up a GoFundMe site to raise money for the family. On the site, she wrote: “I’m trying to raise money for my friends Bou and Alecia for their baby who is in intensive care in Atlanta. He needs lots of surgeries and I wanna help raise money to help with bills and food and other things they may need.”

To date, about $37,000 has been donated; the goal is $100,000.

Patch's Earlier Coverage:

Parents of Toddler Burned by Police Grenade: ‘Never Saw Drugs’

Toddler in Coma After Police Grenade Detonates in Crib
electric123 July 03, 2014 at 04:39 AM
Haven't none of you people have a clue? The war on drugs is a farce! The Government doesn't want the drug flow to stop, this is all economics, if drugs were totally eradicated, look at all the people who would be out of work, DA's, Probation officers, court clerks, judges, prison employees, police officers, and the same on the federal level, the US Government makes a presentation to combat some drugs but doesn't make a total eradication of drugs.
Igor July 03, 2014 at 08:42 AM
virginia do you have proof that they knew it was the wrong house? I'm going to bet money you don't. You are just jumping on the band wagon, beat up on cops. It's the new trend.
virginia weaver July 03, 2014 at 02:05 PM
No, not trying to beat up the police. I simply said they need to know EXACTLY what address they are supposed to be raiding and go to that address, not mistakenly raid the wrong place. Of course I don't have proof that "they knew it was the wrong house" and I did not say that they did know. My point, again, is they need to know exactly what the address of the house is that they are raiding. These raids on the wrong houses occur over & over. Do some research before you try to put others down, Igor. Just for starters, here are places where they went to the wrong address: Longview, TX; DeKalb Co, GA; Dayton, OH; Salt Lake City, UT; Kalamazoo, Mich; Minneapolis, Minn; St Paul, Minn; Galveston, TX; Berwin Hgts, MD; Miami, FL; Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Crown Hgts - All NYC, NY; Evansville, IN; and the list goes on. Don't want to believe me, try googling "Police raid wrong house" or go to and article by Radley Balko-S.W.A.T. Overkill. Now, about that money you want to bet me?
virginia weaver July 03, 2014 at 02:11 PM
Oh, I want to add that I have nothing against police officers; actually have a couple in my family. I'm just glad they are not on S.W.A.T. teams. Again I say: know what you are doing before you do it. Too many innocent people get harmed by being victims of someone's bad information or "mistaken" addresses.
erie July 04, 2014 at 09:55 AM
Even if drugs and guns was in the home. Thats still not a reason that a baby had to be hurt like that. No reason on earth shoit like that have to happen.

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