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Ohio police used flashbangs during raid of home with toddler on ventilator inside

Police release bodycam footage of flashbang raid

(CNN) — Police in Elyria, Ohio, deployed exploding flashbangs while raiding a home last week while a toddler on a ventilator was inside, newly released body-worn camera footage shows, and the mother says her child was harmed during the incident.

Footage from eight officers’ body-worn cameras was released Tuesday by Elyria Mayor Kevin Brubaker’s office, which has requested an outside investigation into the Jan. 10 incident and how the search warrant for the home was obtained.

The warrant was served as part of an ongoing investigation involving multiple stolen guns recovered at a different residence, according to a police report released by the city Tuesday.

The mother, who identified herself in the body camera footage as Courtney Price, told CNN affiliate WOIO that her son, Waylon, has been diagnosed with chemical pneumonitis – a form of lung irritation – since the raid. Price said the condition was caused by inhaling chemicals released by the flash-bangs.

Police, however, said in a release that the devices “do not produce a continuous burn and they do not deploy or contain any pepper gas or chemical agents.”

“Any allegation suggesting the child was exposed to chemical agents, lack of medical attention or negligence is not true,” the Elyria Police Department said in its release.

In the footage, police officers position themselves outside the house shortly after 2 p.m. and an officer shouts, “Police search warrant, come to the door!”

About 10 seconds later, an officer uses a pole to set off a flashbang outside one of the windows, shattering it. Another flashbang was also deployed in the driveway, according to the police report, which adds, “This method of delivery was controlled and intended as a deliberate distraction.”

Officers then entered the front door with a battering ram and encountered the mother, who exited the house with her hands raised, the footage shows. Her face is obscured in the body camera video. She is then hand-cuffed and can be heard explaining to police that the house belongs to her aunt and uncle and she is staying with them.

In one of the videos, the woman explains she and her child are the only people in the home at the time. She tells officers that her child has a pre-existing medical condition and is on a ventilator inside. An officer searching the home finds the child in a baby bouncer near a crib and the sound of medical equipment can be heard, video shows. The woman is later brought upstairs and talks with officers about her child’s condition.

Police said in their statement that a woman and her 17-month-old child were found inside the home. Detectives, paramedics, and the mother “assessed the condition of the child, confirming that the child did not sustain any apparent, visible injuries,” the statement said.

“The child was hooked up to several machines and was a great distance away from the window that was broken,” the police report states, noting the child appeared “not harmed.”

The names of the mother and child were redacted in documents released by the city.

Price, 25, told WOIO that she was the woman who interacted with police inside the home. Her aunt, Redia Jennings, told the affiliate that she and her husband had rented the home for the past year. Property records obtained by CNN indicate that Jennings lives at the address raided by police.

As the raid unfolded, Price said she was stunned as lights flashed, smoke filled the home and police entered through the front door.

“I didn’t know what to do because there were guns pointed at me,” Price told the affiliate. “I wanted to run to (my son) but I knew if I ran to him they could’ve shot.”

Jennings said the teenager police were looking for hadn’t lived at the house for more than a year, but police have come to the home about five times looking for him.

In one of the videos, an officer asks, “Is there just one chick in there and a baby?” and another officer responds, “Guess so. The target was at school.”

The mayor has asked the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the incident, as well as how the warrant was obtained.

“While the footage captured clearly illustrates what did and did not occur when the search warrant was executed, it does not answer questions of what led to the warrant itself,” Mayor Brubaker said.

Jennings told WOIO that the family plans to take legal action against the police department and are moving to a new home this week.

CNN has reached out to Mayor Brubaker, the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, and Courtney Price.

CNN’s Sharif Paget, Yan Kaner, and Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.