SWAT throws flash grenade into crib, child severely burned

HABERSHAM COUNTY, GA (WSB/CNN) - A SWAT team drug raid went horribly wrong when a "flash-bang" grenade critically burned a toddler that authorities did not know was there.

"Those cops busted in the door and threw the grenade without even looking first," said Alecia Phonesavanh, the child's mother, on Thursday. "And it went right in his playpen and exploded on his pillow, right in his face."

The 19-month-old boy was sent to a burn unit for treatment and has been induced into a coma.

A confidential informant told the county's special response team a drug deal was made in the home. The team went in on a "no-knock" warrant" for an alleged methamphetamine dealer at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

"There was no clothes, no toys, nothing to indicate that there was children present in the home," said Sheriff Joey Terrell. "If there had been then we'd have done something different."

The Phonesavanhs said they had just moved into the home from Wisconsin after their own home had burned down. The family of six said they did not have insurance, so they had set up a fund to cover medical expenses.

The 30-year-old man authorities were looking for was not there at the time. He was arrested later at another house on a felony drug charge of meth distribution.

Terrell said a pastor had spoken with the team, and he described the members as emotionally distraught. He pledged they would "be more careful the next time."

"You're trying to minimize anything that could go wrong, and in this case the greatest thing went wrong," Terrell said.

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