ATLANTA - The mother of a toddler burned when a SWAT team flash grenade exploded says the 19-month-old has lost the use of one of his lungs.
Alecia Phonesavanh spoke with Channel 2’s Ryan Young for a second time since Young broke the story. The case is now being investigated by the Habersham County District Attorney.
She fought back tears as she described the condition of her son Bounkham, affectionately known as Boo-Boo.
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“My husband and I would give up our lives to see him not like this,” Phonesavanh said.
The family members are staying with relatives in Habersham County because their home in Wisconsin burned down.
CHILD INJURED IN RAID
Early Wednesday, a multijurisdictional SWAT team raided the home to serve a drug warrant. Deputies said they bought drugs from the house and came to the house to serve a no-knock warrant to find a man they said was known to have drugs and weapons.
Deputies opened the door and threw the flash grenade into the play pen of the 19-month-old boy.
Habersham County District Attorney Brian Rickman told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh he will review everyone who entered the home and everyone who was inside the home during the raid.
Friday, Phonesavanh said the outlook is grim for her little boy.
“The nurse explained it to me. His laceration on his chest is pretty deep, down to the muscle. They can’t close it up yet because all of the charring from the explosion,” Phonesavanh said.
“He still needs help breathing. He’ll need that help for a while. He has a big bruise on his lung from the impact. His lung is useless right now” Phonesavanh added. "As long as we have faith and he's got lots of love, love will make anybody strong."
The Phonesavanh family has hired an attorney who has asked for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the case and immediate suspension of the deputies involved.
The family showed Young photos of the burned play pen. The boy’s mother insists the play pen was not blocking the door as deputies reported. She also said it would have been obvious to police that her son and other children were inside.
“They can’t miss the kids. They said there were no toys, no nothing. There’s plenty of stuff,” Phonesavanh said.
Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said the man the warrant was for is Wanis Thometheva, 30, who he called a known methamphetamine dealer. Terrell said his deputies had been to the home before.
“It was related with drugs. He supposedly pistol-whipped a gentleman with an assault rifle. An AK-47. We never recovered the assault rifle. We did recover some other weapons when he was arrested the first time,” Terrell said.
That arrest happened in October. Neighbors told Channel 2's Wendy Corona that activity at the home slowed after the arrest.
Terrell said a confidential informant bought drugs in the very room where the grenade went off and said there was no trace of a crib or children just hours before the incident.
Terrell said they planned the raid for 2 a.m. so they could quickly go into the home and get Thometheva while he slept. However, he wasn’t home as the SWAT team arrived.
Investigators said they did find drug residue in the home and a smoking device. They found Thometheva in another location in Cornelia and arrested him.
Rickman told Kavanaugh his office will determine if criminal charges should be filed.
"They're going to give us relevant reports and all witness statements for us to review," Rickman said.
Terrell also reiterated that the case is far from closed.
"Not trying to mislead anyone or trying to think that we're covering anything up. Thats the last thing in the world we were looking for," he said.
Channel 2 Action News broke this story and is committed to bringing you new details as they happen. Continue to check wsbtv.com and Channel 2 Action News for new information in this case.
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