The Pensacola Police Department has launched a full-scale investigation after two Black parents accused SWAT officers of physically harming their young son.
24-year-old Corey Marioneaux Jr. told local news station WearTV that he was at home asleep with his two young children, ages 1 and 3 when Pensacola SWAT officers rammed into his door. Officers were attempting to execute a search warrant, but Marioneaux Jr. had no clue that authorities were on the other side of the door. Shaken up and fearful, the father of two said he shot at the door out of self-defense, under the assumption that the police were intruders. He is a licensed gun owner, reports say. One SWAT officer was struck in the shield with a bullet during the raid. The incident happened at 5 a.m. on Feb. 3.
Shortly after the violent warrant search, police took Marioneaux Jr.’s children into custody and arrested him.
Moiya Dixon, the mother of the children, told the outlet that she was shocked to hear the news of Marioneaux Jr.’s arrest when a family member called to notify her, but she grew even more furious after learning her 1-year-old had been injured during the rowdy incident.
“I get out my car like, ‘Where’s my baby? Where’s my baby?’” Dixon recalled of the scary moment. “And I get my baby and I see his face — and it’s almost unrecognizable compared to how he looked when I left him last.”
A picture obtained by the outlet showed the young child’s nose and lip swollen. The toddler also sustained scratches to his nose and minor cuts and bruises on his upper forehead.
“It’s been very disturbing and overwhelming not knowing the truth of what happened to my 1-year-old,” Dixon said, adding, “My 3-year-old is traumatized. He keeps having to tell the story of what his 3-year-old brain can comprehend of what happened to his baby brother. That is horrifying.”
The Pensacola Police Department claimed in a statement on Feb. 7 that both kids were placed in the back of the car with an investigator after the search warrant. The official stepped out of the vehicle temporarily to assist a driver that needed help navigating through the police traffic at the scene. Upon returning, “One of the children was leaning on the door of the car when the investigator opened it to get back in and fell out of the car,” the report read. The two children were evaluated by EMS but were never taken to the hospital.
Marioneaux Jr. now faces attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. WearTV noted that he doesn’t have any previous criminal record. Pensacola Police also said that he wasn’t a primary suspect in the investigation that led police to his home in early February.
The search warrant was in relation to a shooting that occurred in downtown Pensacola on Jan. 22 The suspect shot two people as they were sitting in their car while at a red light.
Over the last year, search warrant arrests have become increasingly dangerous and a topic of concern. Earlier this month, 22-year-old Amir Locke was fatally shot by Minneapolis police after officials quietly entered his cousin’s home, where he was staying for a visit, and raided the apartment courtesy of a no-knock warrant. Locke, who was sleeping during the time of the incident, awoke and grabbed his gun out of fear that police were intruders. The Minneapolis Police Department claimed Locke pointed his gun “in the direction of officers,” but body camera footage shows that the gun was pointed toward the floor “with Locke’s index finger on the barrel rather than the trigger,” The Chicago Sun-Times noted.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Locke family, said that the aspiring hip-hop artist did what anyone else would do. “Strange people bust in his house, awaken him from his sleep, and he reached for his weapon, which he had a Second Amendment right to, to defend himself,” Crump said.
Americans have been demanding no-knock warrants be banned since the killing of Breonna Taylor, another Black victim who lost her life due to police recklessness. Some activists have suggested limiting raids to daytime hours while strictly enforcing the amount of time the individual has to respond to the call after police announce their presence. Newsweek noted that some states could consider regulating “knock-and-announce with dynamic entry”—a practice in which a SWAT team announces as they enter, but enters so rapidly (and often with military equipment).” This means forgoing the use of harmful tactics like throwing flashbang grenades or any device that could cause harm to someone during a no-knock search.