War on Drugs

Drug Warriors Pay Up

$1.65 million settlement


The parents of a toddler maimed in a botched Georgia drug raid have reached settlements with the last two entities facing claims.

During the late-night, no-knock home invasion, which took place in May 2014, a flashbang grenade exploded in the portable playpen where 19-month-old Bounkham "Bou Bou" Phonesavanh was sleeping, nearly killing him. In February, a federal judge approved payments totaling $1.65 million by Rabun and Stephens counties, which participated in the anti-drug task force responsible for the raid. The boy's parents had earlier reached settlements totaling almost $2 million with Habersham County and the city of Cornelia, which also participated in the operation.

"The legal part is over, but the medical and emotional consequences will be with [the Phonesavanhs] the rest of their lives," the family's lawyer, Mawuli Davis, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bou Bou, who was severely burned and mutilated by the explosive device, has had to undergo a series of reparative operations that will continue into adulthood. "He's got a painful road ahead," Davis said. "The whole family, they still struggle with the trauma of what they went through, and every medical procedure is a reminder."

The raid—which was aimed at Bou Bou's cousin, a suspected methamphetamine dealer—discovered no drugs, no weapons, no drug money, and no suspects.