A Georgia toddler has been put into a medically induced coma after he was badly burned by a police “flash bang” grenade that landed in the crib where the boy was sleeping during a drug raid, his mother told ABC News today.
The raid occurred before dawn Wednesday night in Habersham County while the Phonesavanh family was sleeping.
“It was a big flash, a loud bang, a bunch of yelling, and my son screaming,” the boy’s mom, Alecia Phonesavanh, 27, told ABC News.
“Two of my other girls were next to my husband. There was a member of the SWAT team pinning him down, another man had my son who was screaming and crying,” Phonesavanh said.
“At that time I didn’t see his playpen, but I kept telling him to ‘Please just give him to me,’” Phonesavanh said of 19-month-old son Bounkham. “‘He’s just scared.’”
According to Phonesavanh, authorities reassured her that everything was fine, “‘He’s okay, he’s just fine, there’s nothing wrong with him,’” she recalled through tears.
“They lied to me. They kept telling me my son was okay,” she said. “When I saw his playpen I just about threw up. I got really sick, I was so scared.”
“That picture is enough to traumatize anybody knowing that there was a baby lying there,” Phonesavanh said.
When police raided the house early Wednesday morning, they dropped a “flash bang” which police concede landed and exploded in the child’s portable crib.
“It landed in his playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face,” Phonesavanh told ABC’s Atlanta affiliate, WSB-TV.
Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told ABC News, “It felt like somebody just hit me in the gut with a sledgehammer when I heard. I got the call at about 2:25 a.m. and I just didn’t sleep no more the rest of the night.”
“That’s pretty much how the rest of the guys on our team felt… it brings tears quite regularly these days, and I’m not ashamed to admit it,” Terrell said.
The sheriff said that the Special Response Team, SRT, did the best they could with the information they were given.
A confidential informant was sent to the residence on Tuesday to make a buy for methamphetamine, Terrell said. At the time of the purchase, there were two Mercedes SUVs parked in the driveway, with a guard standing at the front door and the back door. The informant did not enter home and made the alleged purchase in the doorway, the sheriff said.
“It was really uncomfortable, and really intimidating. The informant made the purchase and left the residence,” Terrell said. “He didn’t see anything to indicate that there was a child in the house.”