County will not pay medical bills for toddler hurt in Habersham raid
Habersham County officials say they do not plan to pay for the medical expenses of a toddler seriously injured during a police raid.
Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as “Baby Boo Boo,” spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team’s flash grenade exploded near his face. The toddler was just 19-months-old and asleep in the early morning hours of May 28. SWAT officers threw the device into his home while executing a search warrant for a drug suspect.
Habersham County officials are defending their decision not to pay, but the child’s family isn’t giving up.
After weeks of recovery at two different hospitals, Channel 2 Action News was there in July as the little boy walked out of a hospital with his family.
He is doing better, but late Friday afternoon, his family’s attorney told said the family’s medical bills are mounting.
“But at this point, the county is refusing to pay,” said attorney Muwali Davis.
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.”
The attorney for Boo Boo’s family insists that is not good enough.
The Phonesavahs’ attorney also says an independent investigation showed authorities used faulty information to get a search warrant.
In June, Habersham County’s sheriff said a confidential informant told them he had bought drugs at the home. But they didn’t think any children lived there.
The SWAT team did not find the person it was looking for in the home. An investigation is underway into the handling of the case. Meanwhile, Boo Boo and his family have moved back to Wisconsin. Supporters are planning a fundraiser for him in August.
If the County Attorney is right that they are legally prevented from paying, the law should be changed. If the family sues thay might recover much more than medical expenses.