Baby Bou Bou is moved to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite to begin his rehabilitation. It is still unknown how much brain damage he has suffered, but as his father comments, the family is happy to see him awake.
I was able to hold my son and hear his voice for the first time since the grenade exploded. After all that has happened to him, I am amazed at his strength. He has a long way to go but our prayers are being answered. We feel like it’s a miracle.
The baby’s mother, Alicia Phonesavanh, writes an article that is published in Salon, describing the events of the night and the traumatic effect it has had on the family. It also pleads for action against the war on drugs, the increasing militarization of police departments and their increasing aggression towards citizens.
The only silver lining I can possibly see is that my baby Bou Bou’s story might make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the “war on drugs.” I know that this has happened to other families, here in Georgia and across the country. I know that SWAT teams are breaking into homes in the middle of the night, more often than not just to serve search warrants in drug cases. I know that too many local cops have stockpiled weapons that were made for soldiers to take to war. And as is usually the case with aggressive policing, I know that people of color and poor people are more likely to be targeted. I know these things because of the American Civil Liberties Union’s new report, and because I’m working with them to push for restraints on the use of SWAT.
Baby Bou Bou’s parents meet with agents from the FBI and GBI to discuss details of the incident. The parents recount states that officers on the scene did not let them see their son before he was taken to the hospital. They also comment that, after noticing the blood in his bed, they were told that he had lost a tooth. The father also stated that he was threatened with arrest when he pressed deputies about his son’s screams.
The family’s attorney stated that they were given no indication of the severity of the toddler’s condition until they later arrived at the hospital. And that, despite accounts from officers on the scene, the room was not as dark as indicated because the television was on, providing illumination.
Citizens from around the state gather in support of the injured toddler, against the sheriff, and against the war on drugs, at a rally in Clarksville. Attendees comment,
People should be able to make their own choices about their own health and not have to be injured or killed while making those choices. I’m [in favor of] ending the drug war in general, on top of helping this particular child.
If they would have done their homework [before the drug raid], they would have known there were children inside. Now they’re trying to blame the family, and it’s not their fault.
Peachtree NORML announce that they will join the Georgia Taxpayer Alliance at the rally planned for Saturday.
Families affected by addiction, want professional medical help, not flash grenades, swat teams, courts and jail. We would like protection from real crime, not from consensual adult behavior taking place in private homes. We the people need to trust our law makers, judges and law enforcement again. There must be accountability. There must be an open and transparent investigation.
Senator Ford and civil rights activists deliver a letter to US Attorney Sally Yates, asking for an investigation into possible civil rights violations to the family perpetrated during and after the raid.
It is not unusual for the U.S. Attorney to conduct a simultaneous investigation in these type of cases. They did it in the Kathryn Johnston case.
Both the GBI and the US Attorney’s office announce that they will be separately investigating the raid. The GBI announces that the Habersham County DA has requested their investigation to help determine if any laws were broken by officers during the raid. The US Attorney’s office will be investigating too.
As a parent, I can’t imagine the horrible nightmare that this family is enduring. Federal and state authorities are coordinating to get to the bottom of what happened.
Governor Deal makes a statement that he is awaiting the results of an investigation into the raid before further action, such as executive action or new legislation, is taken at the state level.
Any time you have bad facts like this one, it does give you cause for concern. It’s one of those things that require a thorough investigation … to know what if anything we can learn from it.
Well wishers and community activitsts gather at Grady Memorial Hospital for a prayer vigil in honor of the toddler who was critically injured. Community activist Marcus Coleman accuses authorities of carrying out a haphazard investigation, saying that the family has been living in the residence for nearly two months prior to the raid.
The Habersham County Sheriff’s department offers to pay the toddler’s medical bills.
The family’s attorney asks state and federal investigators to review the raid. He says that the sheriff’s story doesn’t add up, and that surveillance video should have shown the children, who lived in the home for nearly two months. He also says that police also should have noticed a van in the driveway that night which had four child car seats installed.
We believe they were criminally negligent because of the children. This isn’t police work. This is cowboys.
The mother of injured toddler tells news sources that police officers should have been able to see that there were children living in the house before the raid was executed.
They say there were no toys. There is plenty of stuff. Their shoes were laying all over.
Cornelia, Georgia, Chief of Police Rick Darby confirms that the raid followed protocols and that there was nothing to indicate that there were children in the home.
There was no clothes, no toys, nothing to indicate that there was children present in the home. If there had been then we’d have done something different.
Habersham County DA Brian Rickman announces that he is investigating the raid to determine if charges should be filed, and will be interviewing everyone present at the scene.
They’re going to give us relevant reports and all witness statements for us to review.
The toddler’s mother says that his medical condition is still very serious.
His laceration on his chest is pretty deep, down to the muscle. They can’t close it up yet because all of the charring from the explosion. He still needs help breathing. He’ll need that help for a while. He has a big bruise on his lung from the impact. His lung is useless right now. As long as we have faith and he’s got lots of love, love will make anybody strong.
The family hires attorney Mawuli Mel Davis, who accuses the Sheriff’s Department of lying and requests a formal GBI investigation into the raid. The Sheriff had stated that the Pack n Play crib was pushed up against the door police entered.
That’s a flat out lie. It’s not even logical for them to block the door with a playpen with their son in it.
The attorney comments that a lawsuit is possible, but for now, the family would like to see investigations and prosecutions of any guilty parties.
It’s unbelievable those officers continue to be on the street and continue to be employed after the way the family was treated and the son was injured.
The story brings attention to controversial “No Knock” search warrants. State Senator Vincent Ford comments that he expects to re-introduce a previously failed bill restricting the issuing of these warrants even further.
This has bipartisan support. I think it’s about time we renew the call for a new law with tougher restrictions.
Sheriff Terrell that officers followed standard procedures prior to the raid and that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorney’s office have tentatively ruled the case justifiable.
I’ve talked to the D.A., I’ve talked to the GBI. I’ve given them the whole information and they say there’s nothing else we can do. There’s nothing to investigate, there’s nothing to look at. Given the information given, GBI’s SWAT team would have done the exact same thing – they’d have used the exact same scenario to enter the house.
Terrell also reports that there was no evidence of children in the house prior to the raid, if there had been protocols would have been different.
According to the confidential informant, there were no children. When they made the buy, they didn’t see any children or any evidence of children there, so we proceeded with our standard operation. When we did surveillance on the house, there were two guards standing guard at the door … like they weren’t letting anybody in. We did make the buy out of the house. We took that information, along with our other information, and went to see the judge and got a warrant. Our team captain asked the normal questions – is there children? If there’s children involved in a house, we do not use any kind of distraction devices in those houses. We just don’t take the chance on it.
Sheriff Terrell states that the mother later told him she intentionally kept the children out of sight and away from drug dealing in the home that she had become aware of.
Even talking with the mother afterward, they knew that there was some things going on in the house and they tried to keep the children separated from and hid from the occupants of the house because they knew that they were – from what she told the agents, they knew they were selling drugs, so they tried to keep the children separated from that.
Officers executing a drug raid on a residence toss a diversionary device into the crib where a 19 month old boy lay sleeping alongside his family in an acquaintance’s home they were staying in temporarily. The toddler was critically injured and has been placed in a medically induced coma.
None of the family members have been implicated in the drug sales and the individual who sold drugs to the police informant was not home at the time of the raid. No drugs were found during the raid and there was no resistance from the family Alecia Phonesavanh, the toddler’s mother, explains.
Everybody was asleep. It’s not like anyone was trying to fight.