A 19-month-old boy was critically injured by a grenade in a police raid of a suspected drug dealer's home near Atlanta. According to the child's parents, he is in a medically-induced coma and has a 50 percent chance of surviving.
Police stormed the home with a no-knock arrest warrant for Wanis Thometheva, whom police say a confidential informant purchased meth from. According to authorities, Thometheva had also been found with illegal weapons, including an AK-47, during previous drug arrests.
Thometheva was not at the home at the time of the raid but was later arrested at another house on a felony drug charge of distribution of meth.
Officers had no indication that any children were inside the Lakeview Heights home when they returned around 3 a.m. Wednesday, Terrell said, and approached the same door where drugs had been purchased.
That door, which leads into a former garage that has been remodeled into a bedroom, was locked, so officers opened it, the Sheriff said. Then, a distraction device, or flash bang, was tossed inside.
Thometheva was later arrested by police at another home on a felony drug charge of distribution of meth.
Bounkham "Bou Bou" Phonesavanh was severely burned by the grenade and was the only one injured in the raid. "It landed in his playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face," Alecia Phonesavanh, the child's mother, told WSB-TV. He was at the home with his parents and three sisters, who were visiting from Wisconsin after a fire burned down house.
"He's in the burn unit. We go up to see him and his whole face is ripped open. He has a big cut on his chest," Alecia Phonesavanh told WSB-TV. "He's only 19 months old. He didn't do anything."
Cornelia, Georgia police Chief Rick Darby told WSB-TV that "the entire unit is very broken up about the incident." The county sheriff stands by the decision to raid the home.
"The last thing you want is law enforcement to injure someone innocent," Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "There was no malicious act performed. It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen."