Nineteen-month-old Bou Bou Phonesavanh is the latest casualty of America’s militarizing police forces.
One early morning in late May, the Habersham County Special Response Team conducted a predawn raid on a home near Cornelia, Georgia. After breaking down the door, one of the officers threw a flashbang grenade into the home. The grenade, of a type originally developed for British special operations forces to temporarily blind and confuse the enemy, landed in the toddler’s crib and exploded. In horror, Bou Bou’s parents could only listen to his cries. When his mother pleaded with one of the officers to let her go to him, members of the team screamed at her and told her he was fine, saying he had just lost a tooth.
Bou Bou Phonesavanh spent three weeks in a medically induced coma with severe burns and a hole in his chest. He was taken out of the coma this week, but the hole hasn’t healed. The SWAT team that threw the grenade into Bou Bou’s crib weren’t on the scene because Bou Bou, his parents, or anyone else in the house were in danger or dangerous. No, the police had deployed a SWAT team to look for a man they suspected of selling $50 worth of drugs, who did not even live in the home.
They didn’t find him. They didn’t find any guns or drugs in the house, either.