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Audio of Ohio police raid that left a baby injured raises new questions

The mayor of Elyria, Ohio, has ordered an investigation after a woman alleged that police officers who raided her home had the wrong address and deployed flash-bang devices that sent her 1-year-old to the hospital with burns.

Police have offered a conflicting account of what happened Jan. 10, saying in a statement Friday that they had executed a search warrant at the correct address and that the child did not “sustain any apparent, visible injuries.”

Courtney Price says audio from her Ring camera proves otherwise. In a clip shared exclusively with NBC News on Tuesday, someone can be heard saying, “It’s the wrong house.” It is not clear who made the remark because the camera fell to the ground and went dark after police deployed the flash-bang devices.

Elyria Mayor Kevin A. Brubaker called the incident “serious and disturbing,” announcing Saturday “a complete review of the incident.” He released body camera video from the incident Tuesday.

The raid

The Elyria Police Department obtained a court-authorized search warrant for a residence in the 300 block of Parmely Avenue as part of a criminal investigation, police said in a news release Friday.

Courtney Price say police officers who raided her home had the wrong address and deployed flash bang devices that sent her 1-year-old son, Waylon, to the hospital with burns. (via GoFundMe)

That warrant was executed that day at 2:12 p.m.

The Elyria Police special response team deployed two diversionary devices, known as “flash-bangs,” outside the residence, made repeated announcements, entered the home and found a woman and her 17-month-old inside.

Several bodycam videos released Tuesday night showed that police officers waited only about six seconds between the time they pounded on the door and shouted for the occupants to “come to the door” and when they busted into the residence using a battering ram while simultaneously deploying the flash-bangs.

A police incident report about the raid said officers provided a “reasonable amount of time to answer the door.” Only “after or near” 10 seconds did a sergeant provide orders to breach the door, the incident report said, contradicting the bodycam videos.

Price, a single mother who had moved from Kentucky to Elyria just a week before the raid, was at home with her baby, Waylon.

Price said she heard “the loudest knock I’ve ever heard in my life” at 2:12 p.m. and started walking toward the door. As she was heading downstairs — less than 15 seconds later — officers busted down the door, set off flash-bangs, and entered the residence with guns aimed at her.

“I froze at the top of the steps. I kept saying, ‘I’m scared. My baby’s in here, he’s on a ventilator.’ Then I came down the steps and they put me in handcuffs,” she said Tuesday.

From on the steps, she said she could see a flash at the window and smoke come through.

Waylon, who was born premature and has pulmonary hypertension — a severe lung disease — and an atrial septal defect — which is a hole in the heart, was in his swing on the floor by the window. Glass got on him when the windows blew out, Price said.

Police took her outside, and later brought her back in to check on the baby, she said.

The bodycam video shows Price telling police and paramedics that the baby seemed mostly fine, but she was concerned about his breathing. “I mean, just the breathing isn’t normal, but like he’s OK,” she tells one officer.

In a statement, Elyria police said the woman told officers that her baby had a pre-existing medical condition, and detectives and paramedics assessed the child, “confirming that the child did not sustain any apparent, visible injuries.”

“That’s when a paramedic got down and listened to Waylon and said ‘Sounds clear.’ Then they took us to the hospital,” she said.

Price and Waylon were sent home once the hospital said the baby’s condition had “nothing to do with the raid.”

But early the next morning, Price said, Waylon “quit breathing.” She adjusted his ventilator, but he didn’t improve, and she called 911. They were taken to a hospital and transferred to UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“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,” Price said.

In an online fundraiser to support Waylon’s medical bills, Price wrote: “The negligence from Elyria Police Department caused my baby to have burned eyes, burned chest, burned arm, burned neck.”

As of Tuesday, Waylon is improving but, she said, the ordeal has been heartbreaking.

“We moved up here for a fresh start. A lot of my family’s here, I just had a baby, and I’m a single mom,” Price explained. “My son has just worked so hard for his whole life to get where he’s at and extra trauma and these extra setbacks, there’s just no reason this should have happened.”

Elyria police, however, maintained that the child was not harmed during the operation.

“Any allegation suggesting the child was exposed to chemical agents, lack of medical attention or negligence is not true,” police said.

The department noted that the two flash-bangs were deployed outside the home and that such devices neither produce a continuous burn nor do they release or contain any pepper gas or chemical agents.

Price is accusing the Elyria Police Department of negligence and poor detective work.

The wrong address

The search warrant was for the Parmely Avenue residence, but it was issued for a person who hasn’t lived there in more than a year, Price said, sharing the search warrant left by police at the home.

“After we were put on the ambulance, (the police) were still here. And then another family member pulled up as I was leaving. And that’s who they told that they had the wrong house to,” she said.

Price said she learned police had visited the home at least five times within the past year. “The landlord even told [police] she had new tenants,” she said.

Price shared footage from her Ring doorbell camera of the raid.

The video shows about a dozen officers outfitted in SWAT gear approach the home, bang on the door and shout, “Police, search warrant, open the door!”

About six seconds after the first knock, officers bust open the door. At the same time, the camera appears to break and goes black at 2:12 p.m.

However, it was still recording audio.

At 3 p.m., the Ring camera records several voices that appear to be of the police. Then a man’s voice says, “Woah, it’s the wrong house.”

Elyria police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the video or about allegations regarding the subject of the search warrant.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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