County Refuses to Pay Medical Bills for Baby Burned by Flash Bomb

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Trigger Warning: This article discusses horrific child injury and SWAT-style paramilitary raids.

Habersham County officials have made a public statement that the Georgia county will not be paying for the medical bills of a young child critically injured during a poorly-planned, poorly-executed, unnecessary SWAT raid of a residential home.

That’s right; little Bounkham Phonesavah, known to those following his case as Baby Bou Bou, will not have his very necessary surgeries or medical bills covered by those directly responsible for what happened to him. For those not familiar with the case, Baby Bou Bou was sleeping in his crib when a local drug task force raided the home where his family was staying. They were looking for someone who wasn’t there. One of the officers threw a flash bomb through the door, and it landed in the crib where Bou Bou was sleeping, causing terrible injuries and burns to his head, face and torso.

He has already had to have surgeries and has fought off infection.  Although Baby Bou Bou has been improving since being released from the hospital several weeks ago, he still needs surgeries and other medical treatments. His family, also, is in need of comprehensive therapy, following their terrible trauma. They were all held at gunpoint while Bou Bou laid injured feet away, including his two sisters. All this was over a single $40 meth purchase by one drug informant.

Instead of admitting that the SWAT team had really stepped in it and doing the right thing by this completely innocent family, Habersham County is abandoning this family and sweet little boy to a lifetime of crippling medical debt.

According to WSBTV (Atlanta local Channel 2):

Habersham County’s attorney provided the following statement, saying: “The question before the board was whether it is legally permitted to pay these expenses. After consideration of this question following advice of counsel, the board of commissioners has concluded that it would be in violation of the law for it to do so.”

Their defense is that paying for medical care for a child injured during a raid conducted by their law enforcement officials isn’t legal. If that is really the case, what is stopping them from making an exception in what is clearly an extraordinary situation?

His mother has already been inspired by this tragedy to become an activist fighting the militarization of police and the increasing frequency of paramilitary-style raids on domeciles. It’s hard to keep from wondering if her very public work with the ACLU recently had any bearing on the county’s decision to shirk its responsibility to a severely hurt child.

Ladybud will continue to follow this story as it unfolds. The family intends to pursue legal action against the county, with attorneys hopeful that medical expenses for this innocent child will be covered.

You can follow this family’s struggle at the Justice for Baby Bou Bou Facebook page or by checking in at the Justice for Baby Bou Bou site here.

For previous Ladybud coverage of this terrible case of unnecessary police force, click here.


Photo Credit: Phonesavanh family