Grand jury declines to charge cops for burning baby during drug raid
A Georgia SWAT team who burned a baby by throwing a grenade into his crib during a drug raid will not face any charges after a grand jury declines to indict them.
An early morning raid back in in May left the young boy with severe burns on his face and chest, putting him into a coma and nearly three months of hospitalization.
Officers claimed they didn’t know a child was in the home before acting on a tip from an informant who claimed to have purchased a small amount of meth from someone who was not in the home at the time.
A no-knock warrant was issued because the suspect had a past weapons charge.
The flash grenade was thrown through a window and into the crib right next to where 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh was sleeping.
No drugs were found in the home.
The child has undergone several surgeries and will require a few more. Back in August the county refused to pay for the resulting medical bills.
Hearings were held for nearly a week before deciding not to charge any members of the SWAT team, which has now been disbanded. This is despite the grand jury stating “the drug investigation that led to these events was hurried, sloppy, and unfortunately not in accordance with the best practices and procedures.”
Supervision failures were also found.
They added, “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.”
Back in 2009, the same SWAT team killed a pastor, Jonathan Ayers, who was trying to help a young woman who police had suspected of drug activity. When Ayers gave the woman money, police suspected him of trying to buy drugs and converged on his vehicle in plain clothes, with guns drawn, and did not identify themselves. Ayers thought he was being robbed and tried to flee in his vehicle, but was shot. He died later at the hospital, his last words asking “who shot me?”
Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told Access North Georgia in response the botched drug raid that he felt the blamed should be laid elsewhere.
“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. They are no better than a domestic terrorist, because they don’t care about families – they didn’t care about the family, the children living in that household – to be selling dope out of it, to be selling methamphetamine out of it. All they care about is making money.”