A Georgia toddler suffered ghastly and life-threatening burns and lacerations all over it’s body, and is in a medically-induced coma with only a 50 percent chance to live, after a SWAT team in northern Georgia raided a home in the middle of the night during a reported meth bust and seriously injured the toddler with a stun grenade.
According to reports, the Habersham County Sheriff’s SWAT Team was executing a bust at approximately 3 a.m. after an undercover officer allegedly bought meth from the toddler’s father, Wanis Thometheva, the previous day. When SWAT Team members busted into the house, one officer fired a stun grenade that landed in the baby’s crib and exploded, setting the baby on fire.
The mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told Channel 2 her child, 19 months old, is at the Grady Memorial Hospital burn unit.
Phonesavanh said she was at her sister-in-law’s home, in Habersham County, early Wednesday when police raided the house.
“It’s my baby. He’s only a baby. He didn’t deserve any of this,” Phonesavanh said. Phonesavanh told Young the grenade landed in the child’s crib, and she showed him a photo of a charred portable crib.
“It landed in his playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face,” Phonesavanh added.
The Habersham Sheriff’s Department, however, is defending his SWAT team’s tactics, saying it was simply a tragic accident.
“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.”
The mother described the horrific injuries in painstaking details to the media.
“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,” Phonesavanh said. “He’s only 19 months old. He didn’t do anything.” Cornelia Police Chief Rick Darby confirmed that the raid took place at the home just before 3 a.m. He said a multijurisdictional drug unit issued a warrant and organized the SWAT operation.
Deputy spokesperson said officers bought drugs from the house and came back with a no-knock warrant to arrest a man known to have drugs and weapons.
“Everyone’s sleeping. There’s a loud bang and a bright light,” Phonesavanh said. “The cops threw that grenade in the door without looking first and it landed right in the playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face.”
They arrested Wanis Thometheva, 30, during the raid.
Darby said the entire unit is very broken up about the incident.
The Phonesavanh family said they have no insurance and are setting up a fund to pay for the child’s medical bills.