Nineteen-month-old Bounekahm Phonesavanh has become the face of no-knock drug raids gone wrong.
The toddler, known to his family as a Bou-Bou, suffered severe burns on his face and body when Habersham County deputies tossed a flash grenade into his playpen and then barreled into the Cornelia home, where his family was visiting.
The sheriff's department used a no-knock warrant.
The botched raid shines a spotlight on the controversy surrounding no-knock warrants, attracting critics from the left to the right of Georgia's political spectrum.
"This is a prime example of why they should not be used," said Debbie Dooley, co-founder of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots. "They were lax in planning for this raid. Common sense would tell you, you need to make sure who's in the house."
Dooley believes no-knock warrants and raids can violate the average citizen's Fourth Amendment right guarding against illegal search and seizure.
"You can't trample on constitutional rights," Dooley said.
Dooley wants Georgia lawmakers to scale back how and when no-knock warrants and raids are executed.
"It should only be used if they believe someone has committed a dangerous crime like murder or assault," Dooley said. "Law enforcement has proven they're not infallible."
State Sen. Vincent Fort said he plans to introduce a bill that would limit the use of no-knock warrants.
State Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, who worked as a chief deputy for Dawson County for 11 years and served on a regional drug task force, said he will draft a proposal that would lay out clear standards for obtaining no-knock warrants and conducting raids as well as when law enforcement carry them out.
"We're looking at possibly limiting no-knock search warrants to not being able to executed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. That seems to be when most of the problems occur, when people are asleep," Tanner said.
Tanner's proposal would require officers seeking no-knock warrants to undergo special training and mandate that a trained supervisor to be on the scene of a no-knock raid.
The bill also would mandate agencies to lay a clear operations plan that specifies which officers would be involved and the type of equipment that would be used.
"It still allows them to do their job, but ensures the public is safe," Tanner said.
Tanner, who said he had been working on the bills in the months before the recent raid, hopes to introduce his proposal during the next legislative session.
Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
31 people are in trouble with the law after a three day prostitution sting in Richmond. Police told NBC12 they targeted specific areas where residents and business owners complained about the illegal activity.More >
Monday, September 1 2014 11:00 PM EDT2014-09-02 03:00:16 GMT
It's an amazing story of inspiration. One man's journey against all odds. 38-year-old Michael Mills is a paraplegic. He was hit by a drunk driver at the age of 16 and before that he was faced with this. "IMore >
It's an amazing story of inspiration. One man's journey against all odds. 38-year-old Michael Mills is a paraplegic, but it's not slowing him down. More >