Baton Rouge, LA – Police have accepted responsibility for executing a no-knock warrant at the wrong home in Baton Rouge and said the city will pick up the tab for the damage caused by the botched raid.
The incident occurred at about 5 a.m. on Oct. 15 when Baton Rouge police officers knocked down the door of a home in the 3100-block of Erie Street in search of an armed suspect, WAFB reported.
Police were looking for 20-year-old Jaylon Smullen and 36-year-old Joshua Cobb in connection with the shootings of an eight-year-old girl and her mother who got caught in the crossfire as two groups shot at each other in the 5900-block of Heidel Avenue on Sept. 29, WAFB reported.
Smullen listed the address of a home on Erie Street on his driver’s license.
But after police busted down the front door and shot smoke canisters through home’s windows just before sunrise on Oct. 15, they quickly figured out that the target of their search warrant didn’t live there, WAFB reported.
“We were looking for an attempted murder suspect,” Baton Rouge Police Sergeant L’Jean McKneely said. “Through surveillance, we thought there was a vehicle at the address that matched the description of the suspect’s car at the time of the shooting. After we made contact with everyone inside the home, we realized we had the wrong house.”
Lawrenceen Wheeler Sr. said the SWAT officers left his family’s home in a shambles and his family members terrified, WAFB reported.
Pictures the family shared with reporters showed doors torn off hinges, broken glass on the floors, and pieces of wood scattered everywhere.
Wheeler said he feared for the safety of his loved ones, WAFB reported.
“From my mother-in-law down to my 9-month-old granddaughter was in that house… and all of their lives were in danger,” he explained.
The angry man told WAFB that the officers barged in with guns drawn and started putting people in handcuffs, including his 66-year-old mother in law who suffers from dementia.
Wheeler said she became so terrified that she lost control of her bladder and bowels.
Police searched the home but didn’t come up with anything that linked it to Smullen, WAFB reported.
“I know they got it wrong. I don’t think, I know they got it wrong,” he said. “My mother in law, this woman won’t even kill a mosquito if it tried to steal her blood so for her to be harboring somebody… a criminal in her house? That’s not going to happen.”
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said the department was investigating the incident and that he had been in touch with the family, WAFB reported.
“I have asked Police Chief Murphy Paul to conduct a thorough review after police mistakenly executed a no-knock search warrant at the wrong residence,” Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome told reporters. “The morning after the incident, I reached out to the family involved to apologize and offer support.”
Chief Paul said the department was reviewing its procedures to ensure the mistake is not repeated, and said they would also review the value of no-knock warrants in general, WAFB reported.
The Louisiana Task Force on Police Reform is also considering whether to ban no-knock warrants, a move under consideration by multiple states and law enforcement agencies following the death of Breonna Taylor during a botched raid by Louisville Metropolitan police.
Baton Rouge police confirmed that the police department will pay for the repairs to Wheeler’s home, WAFB reported.
Police arrested Cobb on Oct. 20 in connection with the September shootings, but Smullen remained a fugitive.
Both men are facing six counts of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated criminal damage to property, WAFB reported.