Bounkham Phonesavanh, just 19 months old, was asleep in a portable crib in his aunt’s house during the early morning hours Wednesday.
Then, around 3 a.m., a SWAT team conducted a no-knock raid on the house where Phonesavanh and his family were staying. A stun grenade was tossed and reportedly landed on the boy’s pillow — then exploded.
“It’s my baby,” Alecia Phonesavanh told WSB-TV in Atlanta. ”He’s only a baby. He didn’t deserve any of this.” She added that her boy is in a medically induced coma at a hospital burn unit.
Content warning: The below image is graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
“Everyone’s sleeping. There’s a loud bang and a bright light,” Phonesavanh told WSB. “The cops threw that grenade in the door without looking first…”
When his family went to see Bounkham in the burn unit, they were heartbroken by his injuries.
“We go up to see him and his whole face is ripped open. He has a big cut on his chest,” Phonesavanh told WSB. “He’s only 19 months old. He didn’t do anything.”
Phonesavanh told the station she and her husband and other children were staying at her sister-in-law’s house in Cornelia, Georgia, after their Wisconsin house burned down.
But deputies said police had purchased drugs from the house and returned with a no-knock warrant Wednesday morning to arrest a man known to have drugs and weapons.
“There was no clothes, no toys, nothing to indicate that there was children present in the home,” Cornelia police Chief Rick Darby told WSB regarding the SWAT raid. “If there had been then we’d have done something different.”
Police arrested Wanis Thometheva, 30, during the raid, WSB reported; however, the station’s video report noted the person police were after wasn’t in the house at the time of the raid, but that he and three others were later arrested.
Here’s a clip from WSB of Phonesavanh noting that had the SWAT team rolled the grenade, her son’s injuries likely wouldn’t have happened — and then she plays a voice recording for Bounkham of his sisters telling him how much they love him, since they can’t see just yet:
“You’re trying to minimize anything that could go wrong and in this case the greatest thing went wrong,” Darby told the station, adding that the officers who were on the raid are distraught about the injured boy.
“Is it going to make us be more careful in the next one? Yes ma’am, it is. It’s gonna make us double question.”
The Phonesavanh family told WSB they have no insurance.