Drug War

Federal Grand Jury Charges Georgia Cop With Lying to Justify Drug Raid That Multilated a Toddler

Bou Bou Phonesavanh may get some justice after all.



Today John Horn, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, announced that a federal grand jury has approved an indictment charging former Habersham County Deputy Sheriff Nikki Autry with lying when she applied for the search warrant authorizing a May 2014 drug raid that critically injured a toddler. According to the indictment, Autry falsely claimed a confidential informant who had provided reliable information in the past had bought methamphetamine from Wanis Thonetheva at his mother's house in Cornelia. In truth, the informant was newly minted, and it was his roommate who claimed (without verification) to have bought drugs at the house. That lie was the basis for the early-morning, no-knock raid during which 18-month-old Bounkham "Bou Bou" Phonesavanh, Thonetheva's cousin, was nearly killed by a flash-bang grenade that landed in the playpen where he was sleeping. 

The Habersham County grand jury that investigated the case also faulted Autry, although not by name, and "gave serious and lengthy consideration as to whether to recommend criminal charges." But it concluded that her resignation "in lieu of possible termination," combined with her surrender of the "peace officer certification" that enabled her to work in law enforcement, was sufficient punishment. The grand jurors' main concern was the sloppiness of the investigation that led to the raid, including the failure to verify that no children were present in the home. They implied that Autry had been negligent but did not accuse her of lying.

By contrast, the federal indictment charges Autry with knowingly violating the Fourth Amendment rights of Bou Bou, his family, and Thonetheva, whose arrest at a different location later that morning was based on the same information. "This information that Defendant Autry provided and swore to was false," the indictment says, "because, as Defendant Autry then well knew: (1) [the confidential informant] did not purchase a quantity of methamphetamine from [Thoneteva] during her investigation; (2) [the confidential informant] had not provided information in the past that led to criminal charges [against] individuals selling illegal narcotics in Habersham County, Georgia; and (3) she had not confirmed that there was heavy traffic in and out of the residence."

This is what Bou Bou's parents, Bounkham and Alecia Phonesavanh, have been saying all along. In a lawsuit filed last February, they accused Autry of several crucial misrepresentations that supposedly justified the paramilitary attack in which their son was horribly injured. Apparently Horn, the acting U.S. attorney, found merit in those allegations. Last April, Habersham County agreed to a $1 million settlement with the Phonesavanhs, who say Bou Bou's medical expenses already have exceeded that mount.

[via BuzzFeed News]

NEXT: Feds to File Utterly Irrelevant Hate Crime Charges Against Dylann Roof

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Lying is a crime? Or was this lying under oath (while giving sworn testimony)?

    1. Does it matter? The judge will say she was either overcharged or undercharged and will set the pig free.

      1. Well, it’s always interesting to see what legal contortions they go through to protect their own, and to contrast that with the cavalier manner in which they interpret the law to fuck over the little people.

        1. explode a baby with a grenade? NBD. Lie to some pinhead in a black bathrobe? FELON

    2. I imagine lying to get a warrant is perjury of some sort. Hell, if lying to any federal agent is a crime, how can lying to support a warrant not be?

    3. government is always allowed to lie to the population, especially “law enforcement” (anyone see the irony in law enforcement when lying is considered a criminal offense?)

      They can pretend to be a drug dealer/ purchaser, a prostitute etc.. in order to “catch” you

      1. Yes, but it’s unpopular work. Hard to get volunteers. But these amazing heroes suck it up and do it. To. Make. Us. Safe.

        1. They certainly do. Suck, I mean.

        2. Its super heroic to respond to the vaguest possibility of danger with explosives!

          1. Even that’s overstating it a bit they just weren’t 100% sure it would be safe

  2. charging former Habersham County Deputy Sheriff Nikki Autry with lying

    As we already knew, Nikki is the worst.

    1. make sure you get the documents for this so that when a prosecutor tries to imply that the police are automatically more honest than the rest of us in a court proceeding you can show definitavely that the police do lie and do lie alot to cover their asses.

  3. As always, a grand jury will reliably indict a ham sandwich, but never a pig.

    1. [golf clap]

    2. And I wonder, just who informed the grand jury that she was resigning, and suggested it was a valid reason for not charging her?

      Is this common? If, say, a white collar criminal resigns their phat executive position, does that typically mean no charges are filed?

      1. Of course it does, dude. Once you’re no longer in the position to do it again, it’s like your crime never happened!

        1. So all a drug kingpin has to do is stop?

          What about Jeffery Dahmer?
          Just give him a stern warning, and have him promise to lay off the Cambodian.

      2. Of course. I used to be work at a restaurant. One day a customer stiffed us with the bill. So I went to what I thought was his house, I kicked in the door, terrorized the family, beat the father half to death and then I realized that I was at the wrong house. So at that point of course I shot the dog for good measure, explained that it was all a misunderstanding and went home. After word of my botched raid got back to my boss, I was punished with a two week vacation. Then I found out that I might be charged unless I resigned from my job as a low-skilled dish washer. And nothing else happened. But I still feel like I got a raw deal!

        1. I just died a little inside reading this. Thanks.

        2. But you went home safe right? That is what matters.

      3. It worked for Nixon, and he kept his pension.

        1. I have yet to read what I consider a rational discussion of why Nixon is considered Beelezebub and JFK is considered a Saint.

          Mind you, I despise them both.

          1. Because…
            One man, once died, but did you know that he could read all of our minds?
            He was a US Adam with Jack the wife, he was a hyper charismatic telepathical knight.
            His parents were an academic team of elites. Their goal was to raise the future human supreme.
            He smelled like the future. His words felt like flowers. And when he shook your hand he’d make love to it for hours.
            A list? Lets. Soldier? Check. Flight? True. Commie? No. Rich? Quite. And was he the true cousin of sir Jesus Christ? You fucking know he was.

          2. Drug Prohibition. Marylin Monroe.

            Now for rational….

    3. ‘As always, a grand jury will reliably indict a ham sandwich…’

      So Mama Cass finally did get justice?

  4. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our scapegoat. No need to look into it further.

    1. ^^^ THIS.

      1. Bingo. Every time I run into a Police Chief (or equivilent) defending the indefensible by saying “All proceedures were followed” (or similar drivel) MY gut reaction is “Ok, so when are we crucifying the idiot who came up with the proceedures?”

        1. That would be the aforementioned Police Chief…

    2. Whew! With all the “procedures were followed” and “if we had it all to do again, we’d do the exact same thing” blue brotherhood lip flapping I thought we might have a procedural issue.

      Babies were torched, jobs were lost, and nothing else happened.

  5. Wouldn’t lying to get a warrant be considered perjury?

    1. No, it’s merely a clerical error…

      1. “My bad! My bad! That one’s on me!”

  6. *cheers*

  7. Yet another group of victims of the selective drug war! The goddamn tyranny has to end and all those responsible have to be held accountable for their part in it!
    Revolution now!

    1. No. No Revolution. Revolutions end with tyrants. Napoleon. Stalin. Mao. Too many South American and African idiots for the mind to comfortably conceive.

      The Americam “Revolution” was an abberation, because it was the Revolutionaries who were defending the status quo, and the power structure thay was trying to force change.

  8. I am wondering if we can find something less lenient than the death penalty? A wood chipper just seems inadequate.

    1. That depends on which end you stick in first.

      1. Slowly lowered into boiling oil.
        French Fried Felons

        1. The Boats can take up to a week if you feed them.

      2. or which speed setting is used.

        1. How about a sarlacc pit? You know, where they will be slowly digested over a thousand years.

    2. This seems pretty decisive, if you could live with the guilt of cultural appropriation…

      1. Not slow or painful enough.

    3. Take your pick.

      Personally, I’d go with the Pear of Anguish. Seems brutal enough.

    4. Last time I suggested something, it resulted in a federal subpoena, so be sure to reference your first amendment right to free speech and to criticize public officials when you think of something!

  9. Next, of course, they are going to go through all the other warrants issued on her request, to see if any of them were also fraudulent and thus invalid, and will follow up on those to release anyone who was arrested based on these illegal warrants.


    1. If their attorneys are worth their salt, yes.

      I’m more concerned about the Sheriff, Joey Terrell(?), who, rather literally, said the department would light another baby on fire.

      AFAIK, this guy is still in charge of hiring the next/yet another would-be felon.

  10. Last April, Habersham County agreed to a $1 million settlement with the Phonesavanhs, who say Bou Bou’s medical expenses already have exceeded that mount.

    Too bad they rolled over on the settlement. I would think having the kid show up for the jury trial would add a zero to that number. Juries love them some kids, and can get pretty cranky with people who hurt them.

    I know I’d be fucking terrified of the jury if we had a malpractice case where we had mangled some little boy’s face like that.

    1. I had the same reaction. That’s a crazy low number for permanently disfiguring injuries to the face of a toddler. This guy is going to be living with negative impact from this injury for the rest of his life. Not even covering the medical expenses is criminal. I would expect that the punitive damages alone would far exceed a million bucks. I’m not sure what their legal representation was, but that number is just hard to believe.

      I would have expected a settlement in the form of a structured settlement that sets up a lifetime of monthly payments from an annuity plus several large lump sum payments over the next 20 or 30 years.

  11. The war on drugs is, and can only be, a war on the American people.

  12. I know we’re busy get our outrage on and all that, but kudos to the medical personnel repairing Bou Bou’s face. It’s looking pretty good considering the amount of damage the pigs did to him.

  13. hope the kid is a boy. Women are judged more on their looks than men are and it would be much more harder for a girl to deal with for the rest of her life.

  14. I’m a bit surprised that Bou Bou’s mother wasn’t charged for reckless endangerment. What kind of mother would place her sleeping child in the middle of a botched drug raid?

  15. Not that it really matters, but just to satisfy my curiosity: what national origin are the names Phonesavanh and Thonetheva?

    1. Sounds Cambodian or Laotian, but I’m no expert.

  16. Just one or two more mutilated babies and we’ll win the War On Drugs once and for all. We’re so close and we can’t give up now!

    1. Unfortunately, what you say in cynical jest, they believe as gospel. Wining the “War on Drugs?” is the assumed moral imperative of a group of people who have no will to factor such costs into the price of their imposed dogma… They are truly the dogshit that sticks to our shoes, and C.S. Lewis summarized such tyrannical busy-bodies effectively..

      1. I’ve seen several pro-WoD people give the rationale that they know the war is unwinnable, but that “those people are scumbags anyway. Any excuse to put them away….” They don’t seem all that concerned with the collateral damage or inherent injustice of criminalizing peoples’ decisions about what to put into their own bodies.

  17. I was trying to think of a situation where I committed violent and illegal actions and my only punishment was loosing my job. something like robbing a bank and getting fired from a job at Kinko’s, but yours was better

  18. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

  19. This is exhibit #14,211 of why judges need to grow a pair and stop accepting hearsay as a basis for a warrant. If it wouldn’t be admissible in court, it shouldn’t be allowed to get a warrant, especially one for entry by assault.

    1. I agree 100% however I can’t help seeing your screen name and equating it to a cop kicking in the door yelling “this is sparta”

  20. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.