19 Month Old Infant Maimed in Paramilitary Drug Raid in Habersham County

Posted by Richard Lawson | May 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Wednesday a stun grenade burned a young child during a botched drug raid in Habersham County Georgia.  The Habersham County Sheriff's office somehow thought it appropriate to throw a stun grenade in a home after “informants” purchased drugs from the home one time.

Now remember who ARE informants?  Informants are criminals who are helping the police in exchange for having their cases be considered for lesser punishments.  The extent of the due diligence here is the word of a criminal who is trying to get a better deal on his or her criminal case.  This sheriff did no actual due diligence to see who was even in the house.  It is disgusting.

After getting a “no knock” warrant from a magistrate they threw the grenade in the home which proceeded to land in an INFANT'S CRIB!  The sheriff's department appears to have no remorse that the infant was severely burned and injured.

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell has been quoted as saying that the raid was “properly executed but had a tragic outcome.”  He has called the victims of his criminal behavior as “unlucky innocents.”

UNLUCKY INNOCENTS.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  The burning and maiming (and possible death) of a 19 month-old infant is just a casualty of the war on drugs, and as result all is just fine with Sheriff Terrell?

Yes, apparently it's perfectly fine.  In 2009 his drug task force killed an innocent pastor in a drug raid.  The sheriff told Access North Georgia that “the person I blame in this whole thing is the person selling the drugs,” Terrell said. “Wanis Thonetheva, that's the person I blame in all this. They are no better than a domestic terrorist, because they don't care about families – they didn't care about the family, the children living in that household – to be selling dope out of it, to be selling methamphetamine out of it. All they care about is making money.”

So, the sheriff cared so much about the people of his county, the people he is sworn to protect and serve, that he sent his deputies into a home they had not spent one minute watching to determine if someone innocent might get hurt.

Let's review some other facts:

  • No drugs were found in the home
  • No money was found
  • After the raid, the police found no evidence of drug activity
  • The person they were looking for was not there (clearly showing that Sherrif's Office was not watching the property prior to the raid)
  • They didn't knock and say “police” before throwing a grenade in a home
  • Innocent people from Wisconsin were staying in the home
  • The sheriff's deputies didn't roll the grenade (as you are supposed to) but tossed into a baby's crib
  • We have no report of what was told to the magistrate in order to get the no knock warrant.  Was the magistrate simply a rubber stamp for the sheriff's department?
  • The only due diligence done in this case (before throwing a military device into a home) was taking the word of a person who was a criminal him or herself
  • Why have the Sheriff and the deputies involved not resigned? This is the most disturbing fact in the entire case.  A person with a heart would resign their job for doing such a monstrous act of violence on a toddler.
  • They entered the home and threw a grenade on the word of a criminal informant. No actual surveillance was done of the house.  Had there been actual surveillance they could have easily seen the 4 children in the home.  They could have also known that the suspected drug dealer wasn't even there.
  • The person for which they were searching was later found and arrested without incident and without the need for a paramilitary assault.

What about the District Attorney?  Surely he will investigate and prosecute.  NO HE WILL NOT.  District Attorney Brian Rickman is a shameful man without a conscience as well.  He has already been quoted as saying that there will not be criminal charges if the police did not know there were children in the home.   During the District Attorney's 2 DAY INVESTIGATION OF THE INCIDENT he has already "comprehensively investigated" and cleared everyone involved of wrong-doing.  He was the same D.A. that cleared the sheriff and all parties of wrong-doing after the 2009 killing of the pastor as well.  The fact that he is going on opinions about the case (after just two days) shows a complete lack of good faith.

Mr. District Attorney, what about the crime of reckless conduct?

O.C.G.A § 16-5-60:

(b) A person who causes bodily harm to or endangers the bodily safety of another person by consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his act or omission will cause harm or endanger the safety of the other person and the disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Doesn't a person commit reckless conduct when they place others in danger through an act where they know or should have known they are placing others in harms way?  Isn't throwing a grenade in a home you have not investigated at least a little reckless?  Just enough to maybe look into it?

Excuse me Mr. D.A. but should the police be held to the same standard that we are all held to, that you cannot simply act without taking due care?  The police have an AFFIRMATIVE DUTY to know whether it's safe to throw a grenade into a home.

Why in the world is it even appropriate to thrown a grenade anywhere in the United States?  At worse, this was a place where drugs were sold.  This is not a terrorist safe-house.  The sheriff's office probably just ordered the grenades and was desperate to find someplace to try them out.  Why would this be appropriate under any circumstances?

The district attorney and sheriff of Habersham County should both be investigated and possibly removed from office.  The sheriff and his deputies belong in federal prison.  This is a Federal Civil Rights Violation.

I strongly urge the victim's family to bypass all state authorities and contact the FBI and US Attorney's Office.  The sheriff, DA, GBI, and Georgia's Attorney General cannot be trusted to investigate their own.  I doubt District Attorney Rickman spoke to even one witness before “clearing everyone of wrong-doing.”   Only the FBI and the US Attorney's Office could do a competent and fair investigation of this incident.

More importantly, why are we raiding homes for drugs in the first place?  How many times do innocent people need to be hurt before we re-examine this war on our citizens with the war on drugs.  War is the absolute correct word because it's how the sheriff can refer to the victims of his crime as “unfortunate innocents.”  This is the same type of language that is used when referring to innocent casualties of an actual war.  It's also how the sheriff justifies his behavior because “all's fair” in war.

What can we as citizens do about it?  What is the check and balance?  The first check is to make sure that the citizens of Habersham County vote the district attorney and sheriff out of office.  Why would the electorate of Habersham County re-elect a sheriff that somehow thinks it's appropriate to kill its citizens as a part of the drug war.  The electorate should use a little more thought before pulling the lever.

Secondly, the sheriff and all deputies involved need to be criminally prosecuted by the federal government.  I hope they are treated as “fairly” as they were willing to treat the innocent child it seems they recklessly maimed.

Finally as a society, when will we stop the insane war on our citizens masquerading as a war on drugs?  Drugs will be consumed because people want to consume them.  There is no justification for paramilitary police raids to stop drug use.  It's am improper role of government that lead to a baby being burned and maimed.

This should never happen again:

- This is the face of the war on drugs -

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

At the Law Office of Richard S. Lawson, we have offices conveniently located throughout metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia. If we do not have a convenient office, we will come to you. We practice throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. If your case is in an area we do not serve, we will find you an attorney in your area free of charge. Our office is part of a State-wide network of Georgia DUI Lawyers. Contact us 24/7 for immediate legal help. Our attorneys are standing by. Your DUI Case will not defend itself. Your Best Georgia DUI Defense Begins Here!