Courtney Price was at home on Wednesday taking care of her one-year-old son, Waylon, when they experienced a terrifying and traumatic altercation with local law enforcement. What should have been an ordinary day took a turn for the worse when SWAT officers broke into the home, searching for a suspect.
In the aftermath of the raid, it was revealed that law enforcement had targeted the wrong home, and tragically, their actions resulted in the baby sustaining injuries. The events that unfolded left the family shaken and seeking justice for Waylon’s suffering.
Price told RedState that she had been staying with her aunt Redia and her husband for one week before the incident occurred. She recounted her experience, describing how she stood petrified as the police burst into her aunt Redia’s home, throwing a flashbang grenade into the residence and breaking windows. She was feeding her son, who has a condition requiring the use of a G-tube because he cannot eat by mouth. A little after 2 pm, she “started hearing very loud pings on the door,” and went to see what was happening.
I got up and started walking towards the door, and all I could see was a bunch of police because we were in a split-level house, so I was at the top of the steps there. All I could see was a bunch of police, and they were already hitting the door. I was trying to get to the door to open it, but I didn’t want to get hit, so I just froze on the steps. They busted it down and busted the windows out all at the same time. I was standing there, I froze. I really wanted to run to my baby and just help him because I see all that smoke getting on him. There were handguns pointed at me [with the officers] saying, ‘Get down, put your hands up, come down here.’ So I went down. They grabbed me and took me outside, put me in handcuffs.
Price explained that the officers kept her outside for 35 to 45 minutes while her son “was laying in his swing, covered in glass, covered in smoke, choking, gasping for air.”
One of the medics who were present at the scene placed a stethoscope on Waylon’s chest and indicated that he “sounds clear.” But the mother could see this was not the case. “My baby was blood-red, gasping for air,” she said. “He could not breathe. I asked for paramedics to be called. Paramedics were called, and the paramedics were amazing…they were amazing and helped so much.”
Upon arriving at the hospital, she was told that her son had pneumonia but did not believe it was related to the incident. But after Waylon was taken home, his situation deteriorated. She said:
That night, my son quit breathing, and I was able to…bring him back up. I kept him at home, and then, early morning, he quit breathing again. I had him maxed out on oxygen, maxed out on everything I had at home, and he was still [declining] into the low 80s. So we called 911 again and had an ambulance come.
Price said they went to the same hospital, but Waylon’s condition had worsened to the point that he needed to be transferred to a higher-ranked hospital. He was taken to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, where it was revealed that he did not have pneumonia but was suffering from chemical pneumonitis.
He has chemical pneumonitis, which is inflammation in the lungs, irritation in the lungs. His soft tissue is irritated and inflamed. His heart is irritated and inflamed. He has chemical burns around his eyes. He had light chemical burns on his chest, arms, belly, and that has since gotten a lot better. The eyes are still pretty bad. My son was born so premature, he already had eye issues, and now we don’t know how it’s going to affect his eyes.
Waylon was recently moved out of the ICU, but the mother said, “he still has a long road ahead of him and won’t be getting out anytime soon.”
Elyria Police Chief Bill Pelko defended the officers, in an interview with a local news outlet:
“We hit the right house on Parmely,” Pelko said. “The search warrant was for 331 Parmely, that was the correct house. This wasn’t a case of us hitting the wrong house.”
Law enforcement had been looking for a 14-year-old black suspect who had previously lived in the house before Redia and her husband, Marlon Jennings. She explained to RedState:
They had been to the house five times within the last year looking for this little boy, and we’ve told them every time that he doesn’t live here. He hasn’t lived here in two years now. It was the previous residents before us. The little boy is black, and my uncle (Marlon) is also black. The rest of us are all white. He pointed at my uncle’s picture on the wall and said, ‘Are you sure this isn’t your family, the little boy?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m positive. I’ve never seen him before in my life.’
In a press release, the Elyria Police Department claimed that the flashbang grenades “were deployed outside of the residence,” and insisted that the devices “do not produce a continuous burn and they do not deploy or contain any pepper gas or chemical agents.”
The second and third paragraphs read, in full (click post to read full Facebook post):
At approximately 2:12 p.m., the Elyria Police Special Response Team (SRT) executed the search warrant at 331 Parmely Ave. which was the correct address of the search warrant.
During the tactical operation, two diversionary devices, commonly known as a “flash-bangs” were deployed outside of the residence. These devices produce sound and light that is noticeable in day or night conditions and are intended to distract the suspects attention. Diversionary devices do not produce a continuous burn and they do not deploy or contain any pepper gas or chemical agents.
However, the above footage from the neighbor’s Ring camera shows an officer hurling the device into the home–with the noticeable presence of smoke.
The family is now faced with the daunting task of seeking justice while also making sure Waylon receives the medical treatment he needs. Price told RedState that during the raid, the officers knocked to the floor the child’s medical equipment, which is supposed to stay sanitized. The family is trying to raise funds to purchase new equipment. The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the medical expenses.
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