Alecia Phonesavanh recently lived through a mother's worst nightmare when a SWAT team detonated a flashbang grenade in her toddler son's crib.
After her family home burned down, Phonesavanh, her husband and their four children relocated to the home of Phonesavanh's sister-in-law. One night, police descended upon the residence in search of drugs they believed were in the possession of Phonesavanh's husband's nephew. As it turns out, that person does not live in the house. No drugs were found in the home.
Still, Phonesavanh said, the officers aggressively forced their way inside. Then the worst happened. "After the SWAT team broke down the door, they threw a flashbang grenade inside. It landed in my son’s crib," Phonesavanh wrote in a powerful piece published by Salon.
Phonesavanh spoke with HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski on Thursday about the terrifying ordeal.
Following the blast, Phonesavanh said police did not allow her to see her son or check on his condition. She said she tried to take him from an officer who then walked out of the house carrying her child. When she made it outside, the only evidence of her son was a pool of blood on the ground.
"My husband and I start freaking out -- 'Why is there blood all over the concrete? What happened? Where's my son? What's going on with him?'" she said. "At that point we were told to shut up and sit down."
The next time Phonesavanh saw her son, he was in the hospital in a coma. Since then, she said, "he has come a long way, but he has a very long way to go yet."
"He has lost his left nipple from the explosion. He still has a pretty big hole in his chest. I personally have not looked at it. I don't think I could handle it. I would probably lose my mind as a mother," she said.
Phonesavanh is speaking out about the horrific incident to raise awareness about what she says is an all-too-common abuse of power by police.
"This is happening every day to people [who are] being relentlessly and unnecessarily militarized by police who think just because they're supposed to be upholding the law, they are above the law themselves," she said.