Official: Habersham-‘Baby Bou Bou’ settlement ‘fair as possible’

Official: Habersham-‘Baby Bou Bou’ settlement ‘fair as possible’

View CaptionHide Caption
Bou Bou Phonesavanh, who turned 2 years old in October, was critically injured when Habersham County sheriff’s deputies executed a no-knock warrant at his family’s home last May. (Family photo)

A nearly $1-million settlement has been reached between Habersham County and the family of Bounkham “Baby Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, the toddler injured last May when deputies threw a flashbang grenade into his crib, government officials said.

An attorney for the family, however, said the case “continues to be litigated.”

The settlement was announced Tuesday evening by Habersham County Commission Chairwoman Andrea Harper and, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, would include a structured payout of $964,000. The money would be paid out as part of a $1-million insurance policy maintained by the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office and breaks down as follows:

• $538,000 paid to Baby Bou Bou’s parents, Alecia and Bounkham Phonesavanh, to cover medical expenses

• $200,000 set aside “to provide for the schedule of future periodic payments” to the todller

• $137,000 paid to Baby Bou Bou himself for “personal injuries”

• $62,000 to Alecia Phonesavanh for “having been subjected to emotional distress”

• A total of $27,000 split evenly among the Phonesavanh’s three other children

In a statement issued on behalf of the county, Habersham County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Andrea Harper said the agreement was “not a perfect solution” but one that “is as fair as possible under the circumstances.”

“Over the last few months the Board of County Commissioners has sought a way to bring some measure of closure to this matter while doing what is right, both for the Phonesavanh family and the law enforcement officers involved,” Harper said. “For that reason we have reached a limited settlement with the Phonesavanhs that allows for a payment to them in exchange for protection of the officers and the county.”

The agreement would essentially direct any further legal action by the Phonesavanhs to claims against insurance policies held by the county. The settlement would prevent any suits against individuals or the county’s general fund.. The family has previously estimated the medical bills related to Bou Bou’s injuries would reach $1 million.

Despite the statements of Habsersham officials, Mawuli Davis, the attorney for the Phonesavanh family, declined to comment Wednesday. He said the case “continues to be litigated.”

“I can’t comment at all,” Davis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Whatever’s out there by them, we just have to let be.”

Marcus Coleman, who has acted as the family’s spokesman in the past, did not immediately return phone calls Wednesday.

Wanis Thonetheva, the uncle of Baby Bou Bou, was the intended target in the May 2014 raid that left the toddler in intensive care. Habersham County deputies threw a flashbang grenade into the child’s crib while executing a no-knock warrant in search of Thonetheva, who had reportedly sold methamphetamine to an undercover agent at the home earlier that day.

Thonetheva was not at the house at the time and was later arrested elsewhere.

He was arrested again just last week by authorities investigating “illegal narcotic activity” at a home in Demorest. He was charged with possession of methamphetamine.

Weather and Traffic