Recompense, but not justice

Readers will remember the tragic case of 19-month-old Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, who was critically injured in 2014 when a SWAT team tossed a flash-bang device into his crib.  I wrote about it at the time, and in a follow-up article six months later.

Now comes news that financial recompense will be made, even though the guilty parties have not been (and probably will not be) punished.

A federal judge has approved settlements totaling $3.6 million to the parents of a toddler who was severely injured when a flash grenade detonated in his playpen during a raid.

The settlements were announced Friday by Mawuli Mel Davis, attorney for Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh.

. . .

“We have worked diligently with our co-counsel to obtain the best possible result for Baby Bou Bou and his family,” Davis said in a statement. “What we achieved will not fix what happened or take away the nightmares, but we hope it helps them move forward as a family.”

. . .

“Since no one will be held criminally liable, the monetary victories will have to be used as a way to somewhat offset this unfortunate preventable tragedy,” said Marcus Coleman, activist and president of the Save OurSelves Organization. “Considering that this family was still held responsible for the medical bills is itself a travesty.”

There’s more at the link.

It’s sad to think that up to 40% of the settlement is likely to be absorbed by legal fees, leaving a lot less to pay for the child’s medical expenses.  I hope it’ll be enough, although it can never compensate for or fully resolve the mental and emotional trauma caused to him and his parents.

Only one officer faced charges as a result of this incident, and she was acquitted.  None of those who planned, authorized or supervised the raid has faced charges – which I find utterly inexplicable and a travesty of justice.  I continue to believe that every single person involved, from the top to the bottom, needs to be fired, and permanently disbarred from ever working in a law enforcement function or capacity again.

That applies particularly to Haversham County Sheriff Joey Terrell, who infamously stated, “Our team went by the book. Given the same scenario, we’ll do the same thing again. I stand behind what our team did.”  That being the case, I can only suggest that parents keep their toddlers out of Haversham County, for fear that Sheriff Terrell and those who follow his leadership and example might come across them . . .



  1. I remember this case. It's troubling that anyone could be so cold as to say that they would do it again, given the same scenario. Personally, I think the team that did this should have to absorb the cost of the legal fees, since it was 100% on them why they were in court in the first place so that the settlement could be used completely to go toward the medical bills.

    Definitely the people in charge of the operation when they get the wrong address or do something like this should be held fully accountable. It's ludicrous that this isn't already established fact.

  2. Were i ever to own my own place, I'd give serious thought to replacing the glass in my windows with equal thickness (or better) Polycarbonate.

  3. The thing that worries me greatly about this is the time will come when the victim or their family will not be satisfied with a piddly cash payout and the complete lack of legal consequences for the people that caused them harm, and will take action that the "legal" system won't.

    The first such people may not be effective, but if there is no real hope of justice through the courts sooner or later there will be a blood bath that makes Rambo proud.

  4. Truly pathetic… They deserve better, not only from the legal system, but the damages too! That won't even cover the medical costs for the baby.

  5. The taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook when these judgments come in. The money should come from the individual officers and supervisors involved and from the police unions and police pension funds.

    1. (Edited for grammar) Fair point. I'd be curious to see how long that "thin blue line" would continue protecting such worthless excuses for "law enforcement" officers from prosecution, when the bad cops in question caused actual financial losses for the folks in that "thin blue line". It's a mite harder to justify the "necessity" of defending a cop you know is a liability when that cop is taking food from the mouths of your spouse and children because his/her stupid actions resulted in "recompense" payments being drawn from the union budget/pension funds etc. Criminal charges wouldn't even have to be filed. That Sheriff needs a "Gibbs smack" (NCIS…it's gotten more political, but it's still a good show) to the back of his head. Good Lord.

  6. …every single person involved, from the top to the bottom, needs to be fired, and permanently disbarred from ever working in a law enforcement function or capacity again.
    That applies particularly to Haversham County Sheriff Joey Terrell…

    Have you seen Terrell's nervous giggling (he knows he screwed up bad) in that first interview? The real shame is that he knows he won't be held responsible.
    Terrell (along with the prosecutor's office there) are a disgrace to our good-guy LEOs.

  7. I'm for accountability for the perpetrators, but this type of stuff will continue as long as their governing entities give law enforcement agencies top cover by tolerating and maybe even encouraging the militarization of law enforcement. Mayors, city councils, and county boards are the proper target of citizens' ire, and it is they who should face recalls and election competition if they can't work out appropriate policies and enforce them.


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