Toddler critically burned during SWAT raid



ATLANTA - The mother of the toddler injured after a flashbang was thrown into the home where their family was staying told Channel 2 Action News Friday morning that the boy remains in a medically-induced coma. 

“He is in a medically induced coma and he is paralyzed. I hope he’s not going to remember this. I know his sisters, his mommy and his daddy will never forget this," the boy's mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, said. "Our kids have been through enough this year. This is just more trauma that they didn’t need, and I just wish there was something better I could do to make it better for him. Wrong place, wrong time. There’s nothing I can do about it."

The family's home in Wisconsin recently burned down, prompting their trip to Atlanta to visit family.

“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," Phonesavanh said.

A family says a SWAT team raided their home in the middle of the night and seriously injured a 19-month-old boy with a stun grenade.

Alecia Phonesavanh told Channel 2’s Ryan Young her child is at the Grady Memorial Hospital burn unit and is in a medically induced coma.

Phonesavanh said she was at her sister-in-law’s home in Habersham County early Wednesday when police raided the house.

"It's my baby. He's only a baby. He didn't deserve any of this," Phonesavanh said.
Phonesavanh told Young the grenade landed in the child’s crib; she showed him a photo of a charred portable crib.

"It landed in his playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face," Phonesavanh said.

She also showed Young pictures of her child in the Grady burn unit. Channel 2 has decided not to share most of the photos because of the graphic nature of the child’s injuries.

"He's in the burn unit. We go up to see him and his whole face is ripped open. He has a big cut on his chest," Phonesavanh said. "He's only 19 months old. He didn't do anything."
Cornelia police Chief Rick Darby confirmed that the raid took place at the home just before 3 a.m. He said a multijurisdictional drug unit issued a warrant and organized the SWAT operation.

Deputies said they bought drugs from the house, and came back with a no-knock warrant 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. If there had been then we'd have done something different,” Darby said.  

"Everyone's sleeping. There's a loud bang and a bright light," Phonesavanh said. "The cops threw that grenade in the door without looking first, and it landed right in the playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face."

They arrested Wanis Thometheva, 30, during the raid.

Darby told Channel 2's Wendy Corona that the entire unit is very broken up about the incident.

“You're trying to minimize anything that could go wrong and in this case the greatest thing went wrong,” Darby said. “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 Young they have no insurance and have set up a fund to pay for medical expenses.

Channel 2 Action News

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