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A 23 member grand jury recently announced that:

… the police officers from a Georgia SWAT team will not face any charges in relation to harming and disfiguring the face of the toddler named Bounkham Phonesavanh.

18-Month Old Hit by Stun Grenade

Bounkham, better known as Baby Boubou, was 18 months old when he was critically injured after a flash bang grenade thrown into his crib by the Habersham County Special Response Team (SRT) exploded in his face.

Unfortunately, the cops got it wrong on all counts:

Police were looking for Bounkham’s nephew when they raided the house. They suspected him of drug dealing and possessing an assault rifle… But the nephew didn’t live in the house, no drugs or weapons were found. (emphasis added)

But there WERE children present:

According to news reports, Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell has maintained it was an honest mistake and that officers had seen no signs that children were in the house.

But the van in the driveway had child seats, there were toys on the lawn, and a neighbor even warned officers as they approached….

In spite of this, the SWAT team proceeded with their raid.

Consequences of a Raid Gone Wrong

The police say that they encountered an obstruction while breaking down the door. So, to clear the obstruction, the lead officer dropped a flash bang grenade. What they didn’t realize was that the obstruction was a crib, and inside it, baby Boubou was sleeping.

The grenade exploded in his face, tearing it apart.

The injuries that Baby Bou Bou suffered were so severe that he was “put into a medically induced coma so that doctors could perform “surgeries related to facial burns, a detached nose, brain injuries and a collapsed lung.”

The surgeries saved Boubou’s life, but they also threatened to bankrupt his parents. Medical bills quickly began to add up. Luckily, Sheriff Joey Terrell took responsibility and promised to pay them:

… Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Grady Hospital to send him the child’s medical bills, indicating the county would pick up the tab.

That tab quickly grew to over $800,000. But when it came time for the county to pick it up, the county refused to payThey explained the decision by saying that “the payment of the medical bills would constitute a gratuity,” and would therefore be illegal. Their official position is:

  • It is LEGAL to throw a grenade in a baby’s face
  • But it is ILLEGAL to pay for the resulting medical bills

Taking Responsibility

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? It should be illegal for police to hit baby’s with flash bang grenades. And, if they do, it should not only be legal, but mandatory, that they pay for the medical bills.

However, no one in Habersham county has taken any responsibility for the SWAT team’s actions. Instead, Sheriff Joey Terrell blames the botched raid on ‘the drug dealer’:

The person I blame in this whole thing is the person selling the drugs,” Terrell said. “Wanis Thonetheva, that’s the person I blame in all this.

And yet, when the police broke in, Wanis Thonetheva wasn’t even in the house. He no longer lived there. They found no drugs. They found no guns. The police conducted a botched raid based on false information and almost killed a baby in the process. Was the poor research, planning and execution of the raid Wanis Thonetheva’s fault, too? No. The cops did that all by themselves.

Blaming the Family

Some people blamed Boubou’s parents for his injuries. In a facebook comment, Melinda Laughman said:

Oh I’m sorry. You had your child in a house that you knew drugs were being sold from? That’s one more reason that YOU BOTH should be put behind bars for murder. YOU hurt your child, not the police. YOU put your child into that situation, not the police.

Every sentence in that message is demonstrably false.

  • You’re not sorry
  • The parents did not believe drugs were being sold in the house
  • No one was murdered
  • It was the police grenade, not the parents, that hurt the child
  • It was the execution of the no knock warrant, not the parents, that created the situation

And yet, the Grand Jury seemed to agree with it, at least in spirit. In its recent presentment, they strongly hinted that they felt the family was to blame:

The evidence shows the children were in danger from the moment they moved into the residence and the parents and extended family had some degree of knowledge concerning family members involved in criminal activity that came in and out of the residence.

They even considered pressing charges against the parents:

The Grand Jury considered whether any criminal charges were warranted against the parents or any other persons living at the residence, and have found insufficient evidence upon which to base any criminal charge.

This almost sounds like a “Russian Reversal” joke set in Habersham county:

In Habersham County Georgia, when Police blow up your Baby, YOU go to jail!

The Phonesavanh’s are the victims here.

But that hasn’t stopped people from attacking them. If anyone doubts that these parents love their son, consider what Alecia Phonesavanh’s said in a recent interview:

There’s nothing we can do to change the situation, my husband and I would gladly both give up our lives just to see him not like this. He’s such a happy little boy, and to see him like this laying there, not moving, it’s heartbreaking. We just want to hold him and we can’t

To suggest that they willfully brought this on their child is ridiculous. It’s also ridiculous to question their motives for staying at the house. They were not there by choice. They were staying there temporarily because their own apartment had just burned down:

[Bounkham’s family] lost their Janesville apartment to a fire March 18 and stayed in motels on vouchers from churches and charities. On April 9, their vouchers gone, they decided to drive to Georgia to be with Bounkham’s sister.

The claim that the Phonesavanh’s moved their child into an environment where drugs were actively being dealt is also ridiculous:

The Phonesavanhs said they never saw any drugs at the house. Thonetheva [the police suspect] hadn’t lived there since they moved in…

“We love our children and would never put them in harm’s way by involving ourselves in drugs,” Alecia Phonesavanh said.

This is further substantiated by the fact that when police raided the house, they found…. nothing.

Interestingly, Boubou’s father actually moved to the United States from Laos when he was 8:

…to escape a Communist regime whose soldiers would kick down people’s doors, tie them up and take them away… Some never came back, including Bounkham’s uncle, a teacher the government wanted to silence…

He traveled all that way from Laos so the government wouldn’t kick down his door in the middle of the night, only to arrive in Habersham County, Georgia and have the government kick down his door in the middle of the night. What cruel fate.

Between the fire, the grenade, the coma and the medical bills, you couldn’t get a much worse run of luck than the Phonesavanh’s have had.  And yet, more indignities were in store. When the Grand Jury presentment came back, it found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the police. But what made it worse was how obviously biased the Grand Jury was in favor of the police.

The Grand Jury had no problems insinuating that the parents might be criminally culpable for Boubou’s injuries. But they refused to rebuke the officers who caused it. Instead, they chose to empathize with them:

We have also seen and heard the very real sadness, regret, and anguish in law enforcement officers who were involved in these events, and we wish to extend our sympathy also to the law enforcement officers involved. Rather than seeing un-feeling or un-caring robots, what has not been seen before by others and talked or written about, is that these individuals are suffering as well. We have seen and heard genuine regret and sadness on the part of the law enforcement officers involved, and we think it is fair and appropriate to point out that they are human beings as well.

They might as well have said: “We’re sorry about the baby and all, but why aren’t more people writing about the pain that baby caused those poor officers by getting his face blown up? That really upset a lot of cops. They are the real victims here.”

It gets worse.

Suppose you threw a grenade in a crib and injured a child. Do you think you could get away with it by standing up in court and saying, “Sorry. Didn’t mean to do that. I guess I was in too big of a hurry. Next time, I’l slow down and take enough time to consider the consequences of my actions.”

Well, it worked for the cops, because that is EXACTLY how the Grand Jury defended their actions:

Some of what contributed to this tragedy can be attributed to well-intentioned people getting in too big a hurry, and not slowing down and taking enough time to consider the possible consequences of their actions.

The entire presentment read like a giant fluff piece for the cops. At no time did the Grand Jury hold the officers accountable for their actions. Instead, their main role was to justify, explain, and praise. Consider this little gem:

The Grand Jurors wish to praise… the foresight of the S.R.T. commander to make available an ambulance in case of injuries.

The availability of an ambulance should factor into the decision to initiate a search warrant.

The geniuses of Habersham County think that you can fix violent no-knock warrants by requiring SWAT teams to bring ambulances to deal with the bodies. What’s next? Solving police brutality by making officers carry first aid kits?

In all, the Grand Jury spent 6 days deliberating before delivering its presentment. Having read it, it appears that 5 1/2 of those days were spent looking up adjectives to praise the police, the district attorneys, and the judge involved in the case. Their final admonishment of the police was pathetically weak:

“Hurried, sloppy, and unfortunately not in accordance with the best practices and policies,” but they found “no evidence of criminal intent or criminal negligence on the part of any law enforcement officer involved.”

Federal charges are still a possibility. But, it is unlikely that the police that actually hurt baby Boubou will be criminally prosecuted. Most likely it will play out like this:

  • None of the police officers will go to jail
  • The Phonesavanh’s will file and win a civil suit
  • The taxpayers of Habersham County will have to pay
  • Baby Boubou will bear the scars the rest of his life


8 Responses

  1. Darin

    This is just how our police is turning this into a communist state. They break the law, cause injury and are praised for it. If it was a black kid the media would be all over it, but would not change the outcome. Police has the legal right to commit crimes, even murder and maiming, and the courts cover it up and protect them. Time for americans to take bake their country so many have died for to give us freedom from this kind of acts.

    • JustMe

      The officers, and the grand jury, will one day be held accountable for their actions and choices – not by man’s court, but by Jesus Christ. Yes, accidents happen, we all make them. But the true test of a decent God fearing human being comes only when he is confronted with whether to be honest and upstanding – or to run and hide in order to try to escape accountability.
      Thing is – the lit’l child can’t run and hide – he was, and is, the victim in all of this craziness that was caused by “responsible” adults.
      I pray for Jesus’ continual healing of HIS precious baby boy.

      • AYFKM

        Jesus. You are part of the fucking problem. If Jesus exists, as you understand him, he was complicit in the blowing off of this kid’s face. If he exists, HE DOES NOT CARE. That means it is up to you to seek justice, and to prevent injustice. Putting it on some deity is a cop out.

  2. ForAmerica

    I can’t even express how angry this makes me. The stupidity in our country continues to amaze me. Wrong is now right and right is now wrong. All those involved with this incident should be so totally ashamed and yet it appears America no longer has a conscience. Further evidence we are definitely in decline. But then I look at the lack of leadership in our country and it makes sense. Our so-called leaders won’t take responsibility for their mistakes and such a mind set pervades the general population. No one uses common sense and no one takes responsibility for their actions. And worse, we don’t hold anyone accountable for their actions.

    • Awake

      Oh, they’ll be held accountable one day – but it won’t be by a court of secular men/women.
      And THAT is the only thing that consoles me right now.

      • jesse

        Be a light not a judge. If I was on the jury I would have come up with the same conclusion. Walk a mile in the cop’s shoes. I’m sure they feel as bad about it as you do. If they pull someone over and don’t smile , they are a hard ass. I f they smile and be friendly, then they are making fun of the one ticketed and enjoy writing tickets too much. They can’t win. These attitudes then give them a bad attitude. Peop;e need to talk to them as an equal give your take on it and try to understand each other. Us and them feelings on everyone’s part doesn’t help a situa

  3. Jack

    This deeply angers me. How much stupidity can there be??? The jury should be ashamed!!!
    This family has done nothing wrong and yet they’re held accountable by some. Isn’t this a no brainer that the police is to be held accountable. Who gives a giant bull crap on their feelings? I mean it is understandable that it’s not easy having to carry a weight like that for anyone but this could have all been prevented. Now a beautiful child has to live with scars for the rest of his life because these “protectors of the law” can’t do their job right? The boy had nothing to do with anything! Then these cowards don’t even pay the medical bills and blame the “drug dealer” or the parents and praise their elite squad for almost killing a child? Whats next? It’s the baby’s fault for lying in the crib at that spot?? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HUMANITY???? They clearly don’t have a conscience and don’t give a crap about a disfigured child. Melinda Laughman can screw herself for what she commented! What kind of bullshit is that? I wonder what she would say if someone poured acid on her face and acted like her? “Oh, I’m sorry. That was your fault. Shit happens right?” I have to say, i can write a whole novel on how this angers me. To think this is not the only case something like this has happened…
    I’m deeply ashamed of being related to such a poor excuse of an intelligent race. Cowardly savages all of them. I hope these animals get what they deserve in some way.


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