Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jun 2014
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Steve Visser


Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday he's awaiting an investigation of the
botched drug raid in Habersham County that left a child on life
support to determine if any executive action or state legislation is

"Any time you have bad facts like this one, it does give you cause for
concern," Deal said. "It's one of those things that require a thorough
investigation =C2=85 to know what if anything we can learn from it."

Habersham County District Attorney Brian Rickman said he is
investigating whether any officers violated the law when they used a
controversial "no-knock warrant" for a raid on a Cornelia house Wednesday

A criminal finding would require officers to have acted recklessly or
illegally but he said he expected the raid will prompt an
investigation into no-knock warrants and tactics, Rickman said.

"There is no question that you want to know how you happened and how
could it have been prevented and that no-knocks are only being used
where they are necessary," Rickman told the Atlanta Journal
Constitution Monday. "There is no question they are among the more
dangerous for everybody involved."

The lawyer representing the 19-month-old baby critically wounded by a
police stun grenade is asking for state and federal investigators to
review the Habersham raid. He said contentions by Sheriff Joey Terrell
that officers did not know four small children were present in the
house didn't pass the smell test.

Police surveillance should have revealed that children had been
playing in front of the the house for two months and that a van with
four car-child seats was parked in the driveway that officers crept by
the night of the raid, said Mawuli Mel Davis.

"We believe they were criminally negligent because of the children,"
Mawuli Mel Davis said."This isn't police work. This is cowboys."

Davis and others held a midday vigil for the child, Bounkham "Bou Bou"
Phonesavanh, outside Grady Memorial Hospital Monday. Worsening health
postponed surgery to repair the deep chest wound caused when a
flash-bang grenade landed on thew child's pillow in the play-pen where
he was sleeping. He also suffered severe burns on his head and face.

"Right now the focus is prayers for the child," Davis said. "His
fevers have been spiking. He is not out of the woods yet."

The grenade was tossed into the house when a SWAT unit from the
Habersham County sheriff office and the Corneila police department
conducted the surprise raid serving a no-knock search warrant. " Bou
Bou's" father, mother and three older sisters were also sleeping in
the room but were uninjured.

The warrant contended that an undercover agent had purchased
methamphetamine at the house the day before and officials justified
the no-knock warrant on the grounds that the drug dealer was dangerous
and possessed firearms.

Raiders found no drugs, gun or cash - nor the suspected drug dealer -
at the house but did find the Phonesavanh family who was visiting from
Wisconsin after their house had burned.

The suspected drug dealer, 30-year-old Wanis Thonetheva, was arrested
later and was in possession of about an ounce of methamphetamine,
Terrell said.

At the time Thonetheva was of jail on a $15,000 bond on an
unrelated-drug arrest. He is currently charged with possession of
methamphetamine, according to the Habersham County jail website.

Bou Bou is in a medically induced coma in the Grady Memorial Hospital
burn unit and breathing on a ventilator because a lung has stopped
working, said his mother, Alecia Phonesavanh

Doctors said he had a 50 percent chance of survival, family members

Phonesavanh said she and her family had moved to live with her
sister-in-law in April after they suffered a fire in Wisconsin.

But they decided it wasn't a good environment and had reserved a
U-Haul for last Thursday to return to Wisconsin.
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