Toddler hurt by police flash grenade

, Posted: Fri, May 30 2014 at 11:36 AM, Updated: Fri, May 30 2014 at 2:41 PM

Atlanta, Ga. --- (WXIA News) A toddler caught in the middle of a drug raid was seriously injured when a police flash grenade exploded in his playpen.

The 19-month-old child is now in Grady Hospital's burn unit in Atlanta.

The raid in which he was injured was at a house just north of Cornelia, in Habersham County, early Wednesday morning.

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell, who described the device in various ways -- a "stun grenade" and "flash grenade" and "flash bang" -- said there was no indication that a family with four children were guests in the suspected drug dealer's house when his team went in and threw that flash grenade to try to arrest the suspect.

Terrell said his team made an undercover drug buy at the house just a few hours before the raid.

When sheriff's deputies and Cornelia police officers, who make up the Special Response team, obtained a no-knock warrant and tried to go into the drug suspect's house just after midnight Wednesday, something was blocking the door from the inside. Terrell said they didn't know it was the playpen of the 19-month-old child, and that the boy was in the playpen sleeping.

"There was an obstruction, they inserted a flash bang, they had to push the door open. When they entered the door, they noticed it was a playpen, or like a pack-and-play type device," Terrell said. "There was a young child in the pack-and-play."

The flash grenade had exploded next to the child, Bou Phonesavanh. He suffered serious burns. Family friends have sent up a gofundme site to raise money for his medical expenses.

The sheriff did arrest the suspect, Wanis Thomethera, 30, along with three others. He said his deputies interviewed the parents, who told them that the suspect is a relative, and that the family only recently moved in with him because their house in Wisconsin burned.

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