Rolling Out

Baby Bou Bou, 2, ‘in pain’; family attorney speaks up

Bounkham Phonesavanh, also known as Baby Bou Bou and Atty. Mawuli Mel Davis
Bounkham Phonesavanh, also known as Baby Bou Bou and Atty. Mawuli Mel Davis

Bounkham Phonesavanh, also known as Baby Bou Bou is a case that has been on the minds of many people. This child’s face becomes a perfect example of the nightmare of the militarization of police and the questions that often come with it. Often, families do not have the legal or financial resources to fight back. And that is the case with the Phonesavanh family when it comes to resources. They are asking the public for donations and prayer as they go through their struggles. The most recent blow that has hit the family has been the decision of Habersham County, Georgia, to not pay the medical bills for the botched raid that led to the extensive injuries of Baby Bou Bou.

How does a family deal with the aftermath of police misconduct?

The aftermath is devastating because initially in most police misconduct cases the victim is also the suspect. These persons are always suspected because the natural inclination of people is to believe the word of the officers, who are sworn to uphold the law, but not break the law. So the person who brings the claim is usually injured, if not killed and there is revictimization of persons who have been subjected to police brutality or police misconduct. This is devastating because you see your loved one or yourself villainized in the court of public opinion. Then the legal battle is so hard that I have seen families fall apart. I’ve seen people just break down physically and mentally just trying to get answers. Because with many of these cases of police misconduct, there is often a lack of transparency involved. So families are left waiting and wondering what really happened which would not be the case if non-law enforcement was involved.

 Can you tell us roughly what the outstanding medical bills are for the child?

At this point it is $1 million; the baby just had surgery this past Wednesday. He received 60 stitches in his face, as well as painkillers such as Vicodin. He’s in excruciating pain and he’s not even 2 yet. He has a chest wound where he received another 70 stitches, so in total he has 130 stitches in his little body. This is all a result of the flash bang grenade being thrown into his crib. The bills are mounting and Habersham County has stated that they are not legally able to pay any of these bills. People need to understand, it is one thing for your child to be injured and the pain you go through is apparent, but seeing your child sufferer through something that is no fault of their own is even more gut wrenching. Then to add injury to insult, to have your entire financial being absolutely destroyed because of someone else’s gross negligence and misconduct is just unfathomable. In America it seems they [Law Enforcement] can do the wrong things and just neglect not to pay. I just don’t understand why more folks are just aren’t absolutely outrage over the injury of this child and the sticking of this family with the medical bills.

How is the baby holding up and how is this family holding up?

The baby is in a great deal of pain; the family is angry all over again. They were obviously thankful that their son lived, angry that it happened but relieved when he was returned from the hospital. They were optimistic and hopeful even when they discovered that more surgeries were going to be necessary. But now they are dealing with additional surgeries because the scar tissue has adhered to the baby’s skull and to his bones. The baby is not able to eat solid foods. Because of the recent announcement by Habersham County to not pay the medical bills of this child, the family is angry all over again. This recent surgery is a reminder to the family of what happened in their sleep, what happened to their child, on May 28.

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