SWAT Grenade Severely Burns Toddler and Leaves Innocent Family with $1M in Medical Bills

Originally published on December 21, 2014, at NationofChange.org

While executing a no-knock search warrant on the wrong house, a SWAT team from the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office nearly killed a 19-month-old toddler sleeping in his crib. Scarred with multiple burns and a collapsed lung, the toddler was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically induced coma. A grand jury declined to indict the sheriff’s deputies involved in the raid, and city officials refuse to pay his exorbitant medical bills.

After a fire destroyed their home in Wisconsin earlier this year, Bounkham Phonesavanh, his wife Alecia, and their four young children temporarily moved in with Bounkham’s sister in Cornelia, Georgia. Two months later, they found a new house in Wisconsin and were planning to return home when a SWAT team raided their bedroom in the middle of the night.

Around 2am on May 28, the SWAT team broke down their door as Habersham Deputy Charles Long threw a flashbang grenade into their bedroom. The grenade landed in the crib of 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh, Jr., blowing a hole through his chest and leaving third-degree burns along his face and torso. After slamming her husband to the floor, deputies ordered Alecia to sit down and shut up as she asked to hold her screaming child.

Instead of allowing Alecia to see her wounded son, Habersham Deputy Jason Stribling picked up the toddler, left the room, and waited outside for an ambulance. As the deputies detained the family and searched the house for drugs, Alecia and her husband discovered a pool of blood and burn marks in the crib. Their son’s pillow had been blown apart.

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