TV journalist Matt Gutman demonstrates what it’s like to be the target of a flash grenade on ABC’s 20/20, Friday, December 19 at 10pm. At the training facility of the Sheriff’s Office in Broward County, Florida, a local SWAT team throws a flash grenade (also known as a stun grenade or flashbang) into a room where Gutman is standing alone. The device produces a blinding flash and loud explosion. It was more intense than he expected. Gutman said of the experience, “it is not a situation [he] ever wants to be in again.”
Why is Gutman investigating flash grenades? He’s looking into the case of Alecia and Bounkham Phoesavanh, the parents of a toddler who was seriously injured by a SWAT grenade when a SWAT team raided the wrong house and threw a flash grenade that landed in their son’s pack-and-play crib. The blast from the grenade severely burned the child’s face and torso and collapsed his left lung. The SWAT team was looking for Bounkham’s nephew, Wanis Thonetheva, who was suspected of selling methamphetamine. The family is now facing medical bills close to $1 milllion. The county government has sovereign immunity from negligence claims against it.