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State asked to investigate raid that injured child

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Associated Press
  • June 3, 2014 - 4:30 PM

CORNELIA, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been asked to investigate a law enforcement raid in which a flash grenade seriously injured a toddler, the agency said Tuesday.

GBI agents met Tuesday afternoon with Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brian Rickman, who asked them to investigate the May 28 incident in Habersham County, the agency said in a news release.

Bounkham Phonesavanh — a 19-month-old nicknamed "Bou Bou" —was badly injured when authorities used a flash grenade while executing a no-knock search warrant at the home in Cornelia where he and his family were staying with relatives.

The grenade landed in the sleeping boy's playpen and his face was severely burned, according to authorities and the boy's family.

The family's attorney, Mawuli Mel Davis, said Bou Bou has been transferred to from Grady Memorial Hospital to Children's at Egleston hospital in Atlanta. He was supposed to have surgery Monday until he developed a fever that delayed the procedure.

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell, whose deputies took part in the raid along with officers from the Cornelia Police Department, has said officers were searching for a drug suspect who they thought might be armed, and they didn't know children were inside. He has said officers followed protocol.

Rickman asked the GBI to determine whether the child's injuries resulted from a criminal act, the agency said.

Davis said authorities have collected no evidence at the home, so the family has hired its own investigators.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, along with Davis and other activists said Tuesday afternoon they met with U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates at her office and gave her a letter asking her to have the FBI investigate.

"As a parent, I can't imagine the horrible nightmare that this family is enduring," Yates said after the meeting. "This is a terrible tragedy that must be fully investigated. Federal and state authorities are coordinating to get to the bottom of what happened."

Cornelia is nearly 80 miles northeast of Atlanta.

© 2014 Star Tribune