The parents of a baby badly hurt during a drug raid at their temporary home two weeks ago sat with investigators for the first time Tuesday to tell their version of what happened.
Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh spoke to GBI and FBI investigators for more than three hours, telling them what happened in the Habersham County home they'd lived in for two months. They were there temporarily after they lost their own home in a fire in Wisconsin.
Habersham County Sheriff's deputies believed drugs were being sold out of the home and raided it. They first tossed in a flash-bang grenade, a common tactic to distract criminals during raids. The grenade fell into their baby's playpen, burning 19-month old Bounkham Phonesavanh's face and torso. They never found any drugs in the home.
Doctors have kept the baby under a medically-induced coma. He is too weak to undergo the surgery he needs. "This experience has been the most difficult my family has ever had to go through," said Alecia Phonesavanh. "The night that our son was tragically injured is a night that we'll never forget," she said, choking back tears.
"Since that night I can still hear the explosions in my ears and our daughter still wakes up with nightmares," the baby's father, Bounkham Phonesavanh said. "The officers who hurt our baby that night have shown no compassion."
The suspected drug dealer deputies were looking for is Bounkham Phonesavanh's nephew. He said his nephew no longer lived in the home. They later arrested that person, Wanis Thonetheva, at a different location.
The family, their attorney and advocates say these types of no-knock warrants and raids where law enforcement rushes in without warning, or the right information, is unacceptable. They want the deputies who busted into the home and hurt their child held responsible.
And they say they want to make sure everyone knows they are innocent of any wrongdoing, regardless of what Habersham Sheriff's deputies say.
"There are a series of lies in an attempt to muddy this family's good name and to make them out to be irresponsible parents," the Phonesavanh's attorney, Mawuli Davis, said.
"We want to make it clear to the world that we love our children and would never put them in harms way by involving ourselves with drugs," Alecia Phonesavanh said. "I never saw any drugs or drug activity in that house."
The family, their attorney and advocates are now pushing for change to the no-knock warrants. They want changes to how police handle them and the criteria judges use to approve them.
They'll rally for support Saturday, June 14 at noon outside the old Habersham County Courthouse to help gain support.
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