Remember Baby Bou Bou?
There could have, there should have, been a prosecution of the police officers who did this by throwing a flash bang grenade into 2-year-old Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh’s crib in a mistaken SWAT raid. There wasn’t.
But there were still the lies in the reports to cover up this crime. Ken Womble’s modest proposal at Fault Lines was that we start with the lies, the perjury, designed to conceal police officers who do harm.
But what if we took a different approach? To borrow from the great American past-time, what if we stopped swinging for the fences and tried to drive in some runs with a series of pragmatic singles? What if we stopped focusing on the murderers and instead focused on a group that is much more prevalent in American law enforcement?
What if we start going after the liars?
I called this the broken windows approach to police prosecutions. After all, lies are far easier to prove, avoid the problems inherent in the defense of police fear that they may not make it home for dinner and don’t implicate the conflicted concern that if we stifle the ability of police to act for their own protection, they won’t be there when we need them. There is much to commend Ken’s plan.
And what better laboratory to try it out with than a baby maimed needlessly and subsequently covered up?
Nikki Autry, a Habersham County deputy who was serving as a special agent with the Mountain Judicial Circuit Narcotics Criminal Investigation and Suppression Team, signed the application for the warrant that authorized the early-morning, no-knock raid, which found no drugs, guns, or money and left 19-month-old Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh burned and mutilated by a flashbang grenade that landed in the playpen where he was sleeping. Autry’s affidavit included several crucial misrepresentations, and during her trial the magistrate who issued the warrant testified that he would not have done so if she had told the truth.
Could this be teed up any better?
GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Jurors on Friday found a former Georgia sheriff’s deputy not guilty of charges stemming from her role in setting up a “no-knock” drug raid that severely injured a toddler when a flash grenade detonated in his playpen.
Nikki Autry was acquitted after trial in federal court. What evidence was offered?
Magistrate Judge James Butterworth testified during the trial that he wouldn’t have authorized the warrant if he had known the real details of the case.
“If there had never been a search warrant Bou Bou would’ve never been injured,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill McKinnon said in his closing argument, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There’s a direct causation.”
That the information was false was beyond question. And the jury acquitted. But maybe that was just a fluke, some excellent defense lawyering, and the other cops will go down, down, down, for the lies that ended with Baby Bou Bou’s being maimed?
Autry was the only law enforcement officer charged in the raid.
Or maybe, despite the modesty of Ken’s proposal that cops be prosecuted for lying, if not for the more difficult and problematic crimes and the harm they inflict, even that is too much to ask. And if this plan is busted, what’s left?