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Parents of toddler hurt by flash grenade in drug raid sue Georgia sheriff, task force members


ATLANTA — The parents of a toddler injured by a flash grenade during a drug raid in north Georgia in May have filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages.

Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh filed the lawsuit last week in federal court in Gainesville. It seeks damages from Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell and members of a task force that carried out the May 28 raid.

Terrell didn't immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.

During the raid on the northeast Georgia home in May, a flash grenade detonated in 19-month-old Bounkham "Bou Bou" Phonesavanh's playpen.

"The grenade exploded next to the child's face and chest causing severe, life threatening and permanently debilitating and disfiguring injuries to him," the lawsuit says.

The Phonesavanh family was staying with family temporarily at the time of the raid because their home in Wisconsin had recently burned down.

A Habersham County grand jury in October found that the investigation that led to the raid was "hurried" and "sloppy" but recommended no criminal charges be brought against the officers involved.

Federal authorities continue to investigate and will decide whether federal charges are appropriate, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta.

The no-knock warrant used in the raid was obtained using false and intentionally misleading information and was used in an unreasonable and incompetent way, the lawsuit — filed Feb. 3 — says. In addition, law enforcement officers should be aware that flash grenades can cause serious injury or death, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and seeks damages, including for physical injuries, emotional pain and suffering, medical bills and alleged violations of their constitutional and civil rights. It also seeks attorney fees and punitive damages

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