A former sheriff’s deputy in Georgia was recently indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a 2014 raid that left a toddler critically injured.
Bounkham Ponesavah, who was 18 months old at the time, spent several weeks being treated in a burn unit following a SWAT team raid in May 2014. The toddler, known as “Baby Bou Bou,” was severely injured when a flash grenade landed in his playpen and exploded in his face during the raid, WSBTV reported.
On July 22, Nikki Aurtry, a former Habersham County deputy, was indicted and has been charged for providing false information in a search warrant affidavit connection with the incident. She was also charged for providing the same false information to obtain an arrest warrant, My Fox Atlanta reported.
Autry, a special agent of the Mountain Judicial Circuit Narcotics Criminal Investigation and Suppression Team, allegedly claimed an informant bought drugs at the home, which she said surveillance showed heavy traffic in and out of, WSBTV reported.
“Our criminal justice system depends upon our police officers’ sworn duty to present facts truthfully and accurately — there is no arrest that is worth selling out the integrity of our law enforcement officers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn in a news release, My Fox Atlanta reported. “In this case, Autry is charged with making false statements to a judge in order to obtain search and arrest warrants. Without her false statements, there was no probable cause to search the premises for drugs or to make the arrest. And in this case, the consequences of the unlawful search were tragic.”
The flash-bang grenade incident occurred during an undercover narcotics investigation Autry and other members of the team were working, according to Horn.
A U.S. magistrate judge will arraign Autry later this week, according to My Fox Atlanta. Her charges include four counts of civil rights violations. The violations are a result of willfully depriving the occupants of the residence of their right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by an officer, and for “knowingly depriving W.T. of his right to be free from arrest without probably cause,” My Fox Atlanta reported.
Jeff Brickman, an attorney for Autry, says she will vigorously fight these charges.
“I think some mistakes were made in the investigation, but (Autry) did not intentionally mislead anybody,” Brickman said.