A 19-month-old toddler, Bounkham Phonesavanh, was seriously injured early Wednesday morning during a SWAT team raid on the Georgia home his family was staying in.
Officers were looking for Wanis Thometheva at the home in Cornelia, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Thometheva sold methamphetamine to an undercover police officer on Tuesday evening, authorities said, and they visited the home to arrest him.
But at the time of the raid, Thometheva wasn’t home. Instead it was being occupied by Alecia Phonesavanh, her husband Bounkam “Bou” Phonesavanh, and the couple’s four children – ages 3, 5, 7 and 19-month-old Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh. The family was visiting Georgia following a fire at their Wisconsin home.
When officers entered Thometheva’s home close to 3 a.m. Wednesday, they tossed a stun grenade through the door. The grenade landed on the toddler’s pillow and exploded, severely burning the 19-month-old boy.
"It blew open his face and his chest," Alecia Phonesavanh told the Journal-Constitution. "Everybody was asleep. It's not like anyone was trying to fight."
Bounkham is now in a medically induced coma, and his parents say doctors have informed them that he has a 50 percent chance of surviving. His parents and three sisters were not injured in the raid.
Wanis Thometheva was arrested at another home on felony drug charges.
The Habersham County Sheriff’s Department said the incident was a “terrible accident’ but proper protocol had been followed by the raid unit.
"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," Cornelia Police Chief Rick Darby told WSB-TV.
The toddler’s father, Bounkham "Bou" Phonesavanh, says the family isn’t in anyway involved with Thometheva’s crime. Since the family is without insurance, a family friend has set up a fund to help pay for the toddler’s medical treatment.