Toddler severely burned in drug raid in Georgia
by Kate Brumback, Associated Press
May 30, 2014 04:05 PM | 1447 views | 2 2 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA (AP) — Officers raiding a Georgia home in search of a drug suspect used a flash grenade not knowing children were inside, severely burning a toddler who was sleeping just inside the door, authorities and the boy's family said.

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said the officers were looking for a suspect who may have been armed and followed proper procedure by using the device, which creates a bright flash and loud bang to distract suspects

"It's a tragic incident," Terrell said. "The baby didn't deserve this."

Alecia Phonesavanh told local media her son was sleeping in his playpen when the raid began Wednesday morning.

"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," Phonesavanh told WSB-TV.

Phonesavanh said the boy's face was severely burned, and he was in a medically induced coma in a hospital. She said her family had been visiting from out of town and were all sleeping at the house in Cornelia, about 80 miles northeast of Atlanta, when the raid happened around 3 a.m.

The toddler's family was staying with family in Georgia after their home in Wisconsin recently burned down, Terrell said. In an interview with investigators, the toddler's mother said she knew methamphetamine was being sold out of the home and tried to keep her four children away from any drugs or drug activity, Terrell said.

If there had been any indication that there were children in the house, the officers would have used a different door and would not have used the flash grenade, Terrell said.

The officers were looking for Wanis Thonetheva, 30, who lives at the home with his mother and had recently sold drugs to an informant at the house, the sheriff said. A judge granted them a no-knock warrant because Thonetheva had a recent prior arrest involving a gun and drugs, Terrell said.

When the officers arrived at the home, they found the door locked and used a ram to get it open enough to toss in the flash grenade, Terrell said.

The officers then pushed their way in and found the injured child in a playpen that had been pushed up against the door, Terrell said. A medic with the team took the child, who was taken to Atlanta for treatment.

Thonetheva was not at the home, but officers found methamphetamine residue and drug paraphernalia in his room, Terrell said. Thonetheva was arrested a few hours later at another location and charged with distribution of methamphetamine. He was being held Friday on $15,000 bond, and it wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The officers involved are very upset and they and their families have been receiving death threats, Terrell said. There is no continuing investigation, and the officers involved are still on duty, he said. It will be up to the local prosecutor to decide whether the case merits further investigation, the sheriff said.

Cornelia Police Chief Rick Darby, whose officers were also involved in the raid, didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press Friday. He told WSB-TV that officers were distraught over what happened.

"You're trying to minimize anything that could go wrong and in this case the greatest thing went wrong," Darby told the station. "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."



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Comments
(2)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
anonymous
|
May 31, 2014
This case should NEVER have happened. That these cops did not know who was in the house before they busted in is inexcusable.

Our soldiers in Afghanistan are held to a FAR higher standard of care as they deal with our enemies. Had this happened in Afghanistan, the soldiers would be heading to prison for failure to comply with rules of engagement.

These days, local police forces often have near zero rules of engagement, certainly nothing near what our soldiers in combat must comply with. The result: You-Tube is full of videos illustrating the thuggish and lawless behavior of cops that is near common place in far too many communities. (NOTE: This behavior did not just start. But, we ARE just now starting to see it thanks to camera phones).

It is regretful to hear of the death threats directed to the policemen involved. Unfortunately, until law enforcement decides to get their house in order, their popularity with the citizens is likely to fall as the bad behavior in their ranks continues to be revealed by camera phone videographers everywhere, and the new media (NOTE: it took the MDJ over three days to report this "local" story. It has been widely reported online for over three days.)

Law enforcement, please get your house in order. Stop tolerating the bad behavior of your "peers".

George Orwell
|
June 12, 2014
Welcome to police state USA...careful you could be sent to a reeducation camp.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides