Toddler Flash Grenade: Tot Seriously Injured as Police Execute Warrant

Friday, 30 May 2014 12:58 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A 19-month-old toddler was seriously injured when police used as flash grenade to enter a home during a midnight drug raid near Atlanta early Wednesday.

Authorities were trying to execute a search warrant on Wanis Thomethera, 30, with a "no-knock warrant" just north of Cornelia, Georgia. When the sheriff's department's special response unit arrived at the home, they found the door they tried to enter was obstructed, not knowing it was blocked by a playpen with the toddler in it, WXIA-TV reported.

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The child, who is now being treated at Grady Hospital's burn unit in Atlanta, suffered serious burns, the sheriff told the television station.

The family told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the boy currently in a medically induced coma.

"There was an obstruction, they inserted a flash bang, they had to push the door open," Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said, WXIA-TV reported. "When they entered the door, they noticed it was a playpen, or like a pack-and-play type device. There was a young child in the pack-and-play."

Terrell said Thomethera and three other people were arrested at the scene. He added that family members, including the child, had recently moved into the home. 

"The information we had from our confidential informant was there was no children in the home," Terrell said. "We always ask; that determines how we enter the house and the things we do. ... Did we go by our training, did we go by the intelligence? Given the same set of circumstances, with the same information dealing with a subject who has known gun charges on him, who is selling meth, they [the deputies and officers] would go through the same procedures. ... (We) had no way of knowing the child was in the house."

Alecia Phonesavanh, the mother of the injured child, told the AJC that it was obvious that children were in the house and said officers should have never tried to enter using the flash grenade.

"They say there were no toys. There is plenty of stuff," Phonesavanh said. "Their shoes were laying all over."

A family friend started a fundraising page to help with medical costs.

The child's father told the newspaper that he was upset about the whole situation.

"We have nothing to do with this," Bounkham "Bou" Phonesavanh told the AJC, referring to drugs.

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