Georgia family awarded $3.6M after SWAT team throws grenade at baby

Photo credit: Sky News
Photo credit: Sky News

The parents of a baby injured during a botched drug raid was awarded $3.6 million in settlement payments on Feb. 19 by a federal judge.

The incident occurred in May of 2014 in the small North Georgia town of Cornelia. The Phonesavanh family’s Wisconsin home had burned down, so the mother, father and their four children moved in with a relative and lived in one room. At 2 a.m., the family was asleep when a SWAT team burst through the door and threw a flash-bang stun grenade, which landed and exploded in the crib of 19-month-old Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh.

According to the mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, officers immediately picked up Bou Bou and took him to receive medical attention. She was initially told that he only suffered from a lost tooth, but later, a social worker informed her that her son was being treated for burns. The baby was in critical condition with burns on his face and chest.

The SWAT team was reportedly searching for a meth dealer when they raided the wrong house. The suspect had sold drugs near the Phonesavanh family’s residence, but he lived across town, reported ABC’s “20/20” in a 2014 segment on the incident.

Bou Bou survived and now lives a normal, happy life. Although his family is stuck with around $1 million in medical bills and no one will be charged in the tragedy, the Phonesavanhs can now receive some justice in the form of the $3.6 million settlement.

“We have worked diligently with our co-counsel to obtain the best possible result for Baby Bou Bou and his family,” said Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis of Davis Bozeman Law Firm, according to a press release. “What we achieved will not fix what happened or take away the nightmares, but we hope it helps them move forward as a family.”

Marcus Coleman, a local community activist and president of Save OurSelves Organization, has been heavily invested in the Phonesavanh case. He says that although a settlement has been reached, it is “still … a travesty” that the family is responsible for their son’s medical bills. The Phonesavanhs say that the bills have left them financially crippled.

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