Elyria, OH Leaves Baby Soaking in Chemical and Smoke Bath During Botched Raid

Irina Zharkova31 / shutterstock.com
Irina Zharkova31 / shutterstock.com

The small town of Elyria, OH lies halfway between OH landmarks of Cleveland and Cedar Point. A small spot on the map, they have many of the usual small-town problems, including a relatively inexperienced police force. So, when they captured two teens on January 10th at an undisclosed address, they wanted to find everyone involved. So far, they had found three handguns, with multiple listings of additional stolen items as well. Searching after the missing person, they set out for the 300 block of Parmely Avenue.

Alerted by the Ring doorbell at her house, Reida Jennings watched helplessly from work as officers knocked on her front door and then almost immediately detonated a flash-bang grenade by throwing it through her window on the second floor. Inside the residence she shares with her boyfriend was her niece Courtney Price along with Price’s special needs 17-month-old son Waylon. Shouting that they had a warrant and to report to the door (by their count) 10 seconds before ramming the door in, the Elyria PD broke down the door and started their assault.

Price said to Cleveland.com, “I kept yelling for my baby. The officers were in the home, searching the home. The baby was clearly laying there suffocating, turning red, and blue, and they all just walked by him. Nobody went to him.” Once cleared, she was allowed to get the child. According to Elyria PD, detectives, paramedics, and Price, all looked over the youngster at the scene and decided he had not suffered any at the time visible injuries.

However, he was not.

Born prematurely, he arrived with pulmonary hypertension (a severe lung disease), and an atrial septal defect (a hole in the heart). These two issues compound one another and have made his young life already very difficult. Driving them to the hospital out of precaution and since Price did not have a car seat on-site, she and the child were released with a clean bill of health. Hard to imagine since he was playing in a swing right by the window broken by the Elyria PD.

The next morning, Price awoke to discover he was not breathing properly. Even after adjusting his ventilator, his condition didn’t improve. Calling 911, he was rushed back to the hospital. This time he was taken directly to the UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. According to Price, “Then at Rainbow Babies, we were told that he needed six more liters of oxygen, his ventilator needed turned up … he had chemical pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lungs and irritation of the lungs, and he had a chemical reaction and in and around his eyes.”

Now, Elyria Mayor Kevin A. Brubaker is demanding a full investigation into the incident.

The suspect the PD was after was later discovered to simply be at school, according to audio picked up by Jennings’s Ring camera. According to her, the person they were after was someone they had previously attempted to locate multiple times at her house. Unfortunately, the raid came despite her previous insistence to the Elyria PD that he does not live there, and her landlord also told them multiple times that he has moved on.

The number of wrong moves and horrible information checking in this case is reprehensible.

Any judge who signed off on a warrant like this one not only needs to have their position as a judge taken away but also their other cases called into question. According to statements from the Elyria PD (both official and caught on cam), they quickly realized this was the wrong house when they made contact. As this person was already (obviously) very well known to the police, they used a SWAT-style entrance instead of a simple knock because of his predilection for violence. Frankly, they should have known he had moved out over a year prior.

The officers who deployed the flash bangs should easily have the tools, it wouldn’t have been hard to check the room and establish the presence of an infant. Especially in a 2nd-floor window without curtains in the way. It would have been too easy to check, and yet they failed to even get that right.

As the body cam footage shows, this entire operation was a lesson in what wrong looks like.