Human Rights

A SWAT Team and a Family’s Tragedy

Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh was severely injured when a SWAT team threw a flash bang grenade (M84) into his crib during a raid.

It may sound like a sensational headline, but over at Salon, Alecia Phonesavanh shared her story, “A SWAT team blew a hole in my 2-year-old son.” What’s particularly heart wrenching about this story is that the family had to sit there and endure the fact that their baby was crying due to hasty actions on the part of the very people who should be protecting the citizens of our country.

The family in question had moved from their home in Wisconsin to a home with family just outside of Atlanta – because their original home had burned down. One night, a SWAT team broke in, believing that the nephew had a small amount of drugs. In so doing, they threw a flashbang grenade inside the room where the family slept – with the baby’s crib. The grenade landed inside the crib.

For those who don’t know, a flashbang grenade, also known as an M84 stun grenade, is issued by the U.S. Army. While the grenade is intended to be used on non-combatants in a conflict, it can still be lethal if it detonates before leaving someone’s hand, or dangerous causing severe injury as in the case of this little boy – he now has a hole in his little chest that’s been repaired, and the poor little guy had to have his nose surgically reattached.

A petition is circulating demanding justice for Bounkham Phonesavanh’s injuries. After some brief online research, I learned that this middle-of the night invasion is common in cases where someone is suspected of having drugs – whether or not that individual has them. In another case, a teenage boy was suspected of having drugs (though later corroboration by a white coach showed he could not possibly be the one sought out), and his parents were pulled naked from their beds.

Another incident in Atlanta resulting from one of these so called “no-knock” warrants left a 92 year old woman dead. Such a warrant is now causing controversy and an investigation – rightfully so. 

There is some good news to come out of this. Little Bounkham has recovered enough to return home – his family is heading back to Wisconsin. He will need plastic surgery stretching into the future due to severe scaring on his face and body.

A friend of the family has started a Go Fund Me campaign to help the family with their medical bills.

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