Originally published August 27 2014
County refuses to pay toddler's medical bills after SWAT team threw flash grenade into his crib, destroying his chest and face
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) The parents of a small child who was injured severely when a SWAT team's stun grenade exploded in his face will likely be forced to pay for all of his medical expenses.
According to a report from Atlanta, Georgia's WSB-TV, Habersham County is refusing to pick up the tab for the more than a half-million dollars' worth of medical treatment that little Bounkham Phonesavanh received after he was injured during a botched drug raid in May.
"It leaves me heartbroken to know that they really don't have any compassion or remorse for what they've done to my family," Bounkham's mom, Alecia, told The Huffington Post. "I read all these articles about how bad they feel and how traumatized they are, but I don't see it. I don't see it in their words or their actions at all."
Again, no suspect, wrong house - and no responsibility taken by police
As the raid unfolded, a SWAT officer tossed a flash grenade that landed in the toddler's crib. The baby was badly burned and the blast tore away at his chest and left holes in his face. His ribs were exposed.
Doctors placed him in a medically induced coma for days and, at one point, the boy's parents were even told that the toddler only had a 50 percent chance of survival.
"Authorities said that they previously purchased drugs from the house and that there was no evidence to indicate a child would be present. The suspect, wanted on federal drug charges, was not there," HuffPo reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a legal challenge to an assertion by the police department that there were no signs that a child might actually be present in the home, insisting that, for example, there were toys scattered on the front lawn of the home raided by the SWAT officers.
Phonesavanh said there were no drugs found in the house and that it was "not a drug house."
Nevertheless, county officials are asserting that they have decided not to reimburse them for medical expenses, because, legally, the county is not allowed to do so.
"The question before the board was whether it is legally permitted to pay these expenses," the county said in a statement sent to the local TV station. "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."
The family's lawyers told WSB-TV that the only recourse they have will be to file suit for damages against the department, and that, at least, has given them some hope that their son will eventually prevail.
"We will not give up this fight," Phonesavanh told the news site. "We will win this fight for justice."
HuffPo reported that the toddler's family held a fundraiser recently at a VFW hall in Janesville, Wisconsin. Also, the family has established a donation site [which you can access here: JusticeandPrayersforBoubou.org].
As local departments got more military gear, they became more militarized
The overuse of SWAT personnel by police departments, coupled with the growing militarization of local police departments, is a rising concern all across America, highlighted once again recently when police in Ferguson, Missouri, responded in riot gear to protests over the shooting of an unarmed young black man Aug. 9.
The rise of militarized police have come in large part as a result of the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of military equipment to local departments by the federal government. Everything from automatic rifles and body armor to armored vehicles and even grenade launchers has been transferred from the Defense Department to local police police departments.
"It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades. The weaponry has changed, but the target is still the same," CNN reported, following initial images in Ferguson showing militarized police presence.
It will only get worse before it gets better.
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