Grand jury: No criminal charges in raid that injured Habersham toddler

Grand jury recommends no criminal charges in botched Habersham drug raid

HABERSHAM COUNTY — A grand jury recommends no criminal charges in the Habersham County SWAT raid that critically injured a toddler.

Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as "Baby Boo Boo," spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team's flash grenade exploded near his face. The toddler was just 19-months-old and asleep in the early morning hours of May 28. SWAT officers threw the device into his home while executing a search warrant for a drug suspect.

In their 15-page presentment, the grand jury found no cause for criminal charges against the any deputies involved in the botched SWAT raid. but they had plenty to say about the investigation.
The jury called it "sloppy and hurried" and "not in accordance with best practices." The grand jury said while they want law enforcement to pursue drug dealers "the zeal to hold them accountable must not override cautious and patient judgment."
They went on to say "there should be no such thing as an emergency drug investigation."
A sheriff's task force said they had a witness to drug sales at the home and expected to find a known drug dealer inside. They obtained a no-knock warrant. Instead, they encountered the child and his parents sleeping just beyond this door.
To that point, the grand jury recommended "that every effort should be made in determining presence of children."
"What stood out to me is how hard they worked and struggled," said District Attorney Brian Rickman.
Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh asked Rickman, "A lot of people have said throughout this that if a flash bang, a grenade, exploded inside a child's crib, something went wrong. A lot of people were hoping that someone would be held accountable."
Rickman said, "To answer the question that's absolutely true. I think what people have to be careful about -- there's a difference in criminal responsibility versus, of course there will be a civil lawsuit, but also some of the personal accountability.
There is still an ongoing criminal investigation with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The grand jury wants their findings read to the entire Georgia Assembly. They believe the tragedy that happened in Habersham County could happen to any community and they don't want any other children hurt.
The family's spokesman said the parents are distraught and not satisfied. The spokesman said they will likely move forward with civil suit. They plan a news conference Tuesday to discuss the future plans in more detail.
Boo Boo and his family have since moved back to Wisconsin.