We Almost Killed Your Baby; You Pay the Expenses

Remember that horrifying case in Georgia where police served a no-knock warrant, threw a flash bang grenade into a baby’s crib and nearly killed him? Now the county is refusing to pay the medical expenses for that child, saying that’s somehow against the law.

Officials in a Georgia county are refusing to pay medical expenses for a toddler badly injured during a police raid on the home where the boy was staying.

Bounkham Phonesavanh was hospitalized for weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT officer tossed a flash grenade into his crib during a no-knock raid May 28 in Habersham County.

The 19-month-old suffered serious wounds, including a hole in his chest that exposed his ribs, and burns to his face and chest when the grenade detonated just inches away from him as he slept…

Officials in Habersham County, which conducted the drug raid, have turned down the family’s request to pay for the boy’s medical bills, saying they’re not allowed to help.

“The question before the board was whether it is legally permitted to pay these expenses,” county attorney Donnie Hunt said in a statement. “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.”

But the Phonesavanh family isn’t satisfied with the decision or the explanation, their attorney said.

The attorney said an independent investigation in June found the county used faulty information to obtain the search warrant, and the county continues to examine its handling of the case.

Funny how the illegal part of this isn’t the SWAT raid on a non-violent family but doing the right thing to fix their mistake.

"Corniaud, is that you?One can be atheist and follows the most obnoxious form of libertarianism. ..."

Trump’s Blatant Hypocrisy on Sexual Harassment
"PZ doesn't use Disqus.Anyway, yeah, that sounds like Pharyngula. I remember a thread a few ..."

OH Gov. Candidate Defends Franken by ..."
"Die Anyway looks out window... nothing but clouds. Well, if it's up there, I can't ..."

OH Gov. Candidate Defends Franken by ..."
"Just think what a municipal court judge is like if this guy made it to ..."

OH Gov. Candidate Defends Franken by ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Chiroptera

    I am kind of curious about how the officer who threw the grenade feels about all of this. Does he feel badly or can he really just shrug it off? Is it occurring to him that there is something wrong with his unit’s standard procedures, or does he just view this as one of those unfortunate things that happen?

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    Did the family keep the receipt? If they do not have the receipt for the SWAT raid, how can we even know those burns came from the police? I mean, after all, the police are professional and honorable. Seems more likely the family burned the kid to get some free Obamacare. Thanks, Obama!!!

  • Loqi

    But Ed, the police are the good guys, remember? They had the good word of an anonymous informant who said he bought $50 worth of drugs there. 50$! Of Drugs! Clearly this warranted a bunch of SEAL 6 fetishists acting as if they were raiding a terrorist compound (a flash bang in what you suspect is a drug house? Seriously? What if they’re cooking meth? I wonder if the county would refuse to help pay for the funeral costs of the family, the officers, and the neighbors who were all blown to pieces…). Plus the family name sounds furrin’ so they’re probably looters who were asking for it by aggressively and antagonistically sitting quietly in their own home.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Is it occurring to him that there is something wrong with his unit’s standard procedures, or does he just view this as one of those unfortunate things that happen?

    False dichotomy. After all, it’s possible (among other things) that this comes under the heading of “crime prevention.” Just because the larval thug managed to survive doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good try. Or for that matter, eugenics: if that grenade had landed a few inches farther south, at least he wouldn’t be reproducing.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Funny how the illegal part of this isn’t the SWAT raid on a non-violent family but doing the right thing to fix their mistake.

    Of course they were non-violent, after the police took out their leader. He didn’t rise to head the deadly Huggies Cartel by just laying there.

     

    Chiroptera “I am kind of curious about how the officer who threw the grenade feels about all of this. Does he feel badly or can he really just shrug it off?”

    Look, in times of stress, like a raid of a home of known druggers, when surprised you simply react. I think we can all agree that if we were in his situation, we’d throw a flashbang at a baby too.

  • smrnda

    The rationale is probably that if the admit fault and pay, they will be obliged to pay much more often, and it’s just defenders of the Police State refusing to be responsible.

    On guilt, I’ve concluded that many if not most cops are authoritarian sociopaths who don’t give a shit about the damage they cause.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    This is horribly reminiscent of the scene in “BRAZIL” where they get the wrong guy and – because it was the wrong guy – they want to reclaim expenses from the (now deceased)’s family.

    That’s where this is going to end: the SWAT team will invoice you:

    – 9mm parabellum, 2837 rounds $.40@ = $1134.80

    – Flashbang(tm) grenade, 14 $100@ = $1400.00 (“quantity discount” applied) – $1000.00

    – Fuel and mileage M1 Abrams Tank 10 $100/mile@ = $1000.00

    – Parking, M1 Abrams Tank 4hr $40@ = $400

    – Stress relief therapy, SWAT team 5 members $400@ = $4000.00

    Total: $7534.80

    NOTICE: Late accounts will be referred to our “COLLECTIONS DEPARTMENT”

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    I’ve concluded that many if not most cops are authoritarian sociopaths who don’t give a shit about the damage they cause.

    I’ve concluded that all cops are authoritarian sociopaths who actually revel in the damage they cause.

    Normally I’d feel constrained to write “virtually all” not “all” but – seriously – for those cops that delude themselves that they’re not authoriarian monsters and they’re there to help: if you want to help there are other jobs. Starting with MSF and going from there.

  • steve84

    They know that those thugs will screw up again in the future. It’s inevitable. And they don’t do won’t to be liable for the next incident.

  • busterggi

    You know that baby was going to commit a crime someday, it was a pre-emptive strike.

    Christians know we are all unworthy depraved sinners who deserve punishment, just ask heddle.

  • flex

    … the board of commissioners has concluded that it would be in violation of the law for it to do so.

    While I’m appalled at the SWAT teams action, the board of commissioners may well be constrained by a law preventing them from immediately releasing the money to pay for their mistake.

    IANAL, but there are laws which might apply, including laws about requiring the investigation to be completed, or state laws about applicable use of public funds. Municipal officials do not have unlimited discretion to distribute public funds (nor should they).

    If I was a betting man, I would hazard that the family has been given advice (potentially even by the municipality’s attorney [wink-wink]) to sue the municipality as the easiest and quickest means of justice. The suit can be settled fairly rapidly under a consent judgement where the municipality will pay all the costs (including the court fees). Also, since the settlement would be court ordered it can explicitly ignore any applicable federal, state, or local laws. Further, if the municipality is structured properly, most of the money awarded to the family would come from the municipality’s lawsuit insurance rather than directly from the public coffers.

    As a public official, I can attest that there are times when going to court for a consent judgement is the fastest and easiest route to justice.

    This happened 12 weeks ago, which suggests that;

    1) The county board meets once a month, probably the 3rd Wednesday.

    2) Regrets were said in the June meeting, and the notice of the start of the investigation.

    3) The question of payment occurred during or before the July meeting, it was discussed at the July meeting, but it clearly needed the advice of their attorney.

    4) In the August meeting, they probably regrettably announced that they were constrained by law from releasing funds for this purpose.

    That being said, I have not been following this case closely to learn if the board are being assholes or are just following the process. Barring evidence for the former, I would expect the latter.

  • Ben P

    That being said, I have not been following this case closely to learn if the board are being assholes or are just following the process. Barring evidence for the former, I would expect the latter.

    This sounds correct, I’m sure the city councilmembers are well aware of how much bad press they’ve received for it.

    I would only add that many cities (and state governments for that matter) have established procedures if they’re paying out any sum to settle a lawsuit or a potential lawsuit, which is what it would be in this case. In my experience it’s not at all uncommon that the quoroum or council or whatever legislative body exists would have to take a proposal to settle that discusses a precise amount, then have a specific vote to disburse that amount from the town’s treasury.

    Legally, offers to pay medical expenses are *often* excluded from evidence and can’t be considered admissions of fault. However, being the cold heartless bastard that I am (it comes with the job) I would definitely be part of my advice to the city that if you’re paying out money, it needs to be part of some agreed settlement for the expected lawsuit. Not, “we’ll cut you a check and hope you decide not to come back and sue later.” Maybe there’s a deal they could work out for an annuity or some way of providing ongoing medical expenses to the child as part of a settlement right now, but deals like that take a little more time to setup.

  • tubi

    Chiroptera @1

    I am kind of curious about how the officer who threw the grenade feels about all of this. Does he feel badly or can he really just shrug it off? Is it occurring to him that there is something wrong with his unit’s standard procedures, or does he just view this as one of those unfortunate things that happen?

    First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate flashbang, the cop’s body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    1: @ Loqi, I read about one yesterday where a teenager hooked onto a grandmother’s internet connection and made threats toward the cops. Cops throw multiple grenades in granny’s house, hold her and a girl inside at gunpoint. Break the unlocked storm door with a battering ram (the wooden door was open at the time). Then they’re caught on video afterwards joking about how cool it was when the glass shattered on the storm door.

    2) The county commission attorney is probably telling the truth. In a situation like this that could result in a big loss of money, the county will turn it over to the insurance company, which is on the hook for any payout and has a raft of attorneys who decide whether to settle or go to court.

    In this case — 19-month-old baby burned horrifically — I’d bet on a settlement. Those terms generally are not disclosed to the public, so the next person thinking about suing does not have a figure on which to base his claim.

  • magistramarla

    If I were that mother, I wouldn’t just settle for medical costs. That city should be sued for enough to cover not just the child’s present and future medical costs, but his college tuition and therapy for him and the entire family.

    If militarized police become too expensive for cities and the insurance companies begin to refuse to insure them, then maybe we can start to get rid of them.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    following advice of counsel

    Four of ‘Murica’s most dangerous words, often used as an excuse to avoid behaving like decent human beings.

  • Randomfactor

    The city will settle the resulting court case with a gag order for a dozen times the medical expenses.

  • freehand

    theschwa says: Did the family keep the receipt? If they do not have the receipt for the SWAT raid, how can we even know those burns came from the police?

    .

    I’d wager even odds that the police department is establishing new procedures now for such events:

    1. Admit nothing.

    2. If there are any visible video recording devices, confiscate them (On the grounds that they provide evidence. Which they might.)

    3. Should the video recording be accidentally erased, await further orders.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Look, that kid had a marijuana contact high. Hopped up on that shit, the kid could have done anything. Just look at the wound pattern – a gaping hole in the chest??? Clearly the result of a baby who was charging towards the cops when the grenade was thrown. Also, just hours earlier that kid not only grabbed someone else’s spoon without asking, but yanked the victim’s hair, too – making it a strong arm robbery, even if the spoon victim didn’t report the crime to the police.

    How innocent is that baby looking now????