Minneapolis police are under public scrutiny after a video of officers shooting a Black man after bursting into the apartment he was staying in while executing a no-knock warrant was made public last week. The 22-year-old’s parents say he was “executed” while stumbling to defend himself after suddenly being awakened from his sleep.
Police say the man was preemptively shot in self-defense after he aimed a gun at an officer — possibly to shoot and kill.
Amir Rahkare Locke was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer on Wednesday, Feb. 2, after a SWAT team barged into the downtown apartment as part of a homicide investigation.
The officers were able to push into the residence after receiving a no-knock warrant for three different units at the Balero Flats apartment building, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Locke, who was spending the night at a relative’s apartment, was in was not listed on the warrant, nor was he mentioned as a suspect in the investigation.
Police allege that Locke was shot by Officer Mark Hanneman after he aimed a gun at an officer. However, video footage from one officer’s bodycam shows a blanket-wrapped form with a gun in his right hand struggling to rise from a sleeping position on a couch after being startled by the cacophony of the SWAT team invading the living room early Wednesday morning.
His family further noted that Locke was licensed to carry a weapon and had no criminal history in Minnesota.
The video is less than a minute but it quickly evoked comparisons to the 2020 shooting Breonna Taylor by Louisville, Kentucky, police.
The Minneapolis video shows the members of the SWAT unit unlocking the door to the apartment and entering at 6:48 am. They announce themselves shouting “police” and “search warrant.” This warning is done as they enter the apartments and after their guns are already drawn.
On Friday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Locke was shot multiple times, twice in the chest and once in his wrist. He was pronounced dead 13 minutes later at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Originally at a press conference days after the fatal shooting, the interim MPD chief Amelia Huffman stood by her officers’ account of the events of that morning.
She also said, according to the local CBS affiliate, the officers had secured both a knock and no-knock warrant and were instructed to use their judgment on how to execute them.
During the press conference, Huffman’s remarks were interrupted by Nekima Levy Armstrong, an activist who serves on the mayor’s new Community Safety Workgroup.
Levy Armstrong pressed Huffman and the Mayor Jacob Frey on issues of transparency, saying, “When people voted to re-elect you, Jacob, they wanted to see a new leader … they expected a new beginning. That’s why they gave you authority. That’s what we want to see, not cover-ups, not whitewashing. Amelia, you want to be the chief — act like it. Don’t cover-up.”
In 2020, after the death of George Floyd, the city of Minneapolis said it would restrict the use of such unannounced raids. Frey has claimed on multiple occasions that he has mandated that these no-nock warrants are only used for “exigent circumstances.” The Star Tribune asserts that court records suggest otherwise.
Records show that since the start of the year, 13 applications for no-knock or nighttime warrants have been filed by MPD personnel, one more than have been filed for standard search warrants. This number does not include other police forces, like Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, who have carried out warrants at Minneapolis addresses.
In its investigation, the newspaper reported that an unnamed source in law enforcement says originally a standard warrant was filed by St. Paul police one week earlier in connection with the investigation that led to the raid on the apartment Locke was killed in. The Star Tribune’s source says Minneapolis police would not cooperate in executing the search unless a no-knock warrant was secured.
St. Paul police obliged the larger force, even though, according to their spokesman Steve Linders, in their own city the department had not used this type of warrant since 2016.
The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis has issued a statement on Saturday, Feb. 6 on review of the shooting. It read in part, “The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will gather the needed facts for the investigation and no conclusions should be made until the investigation is complete.”
The union further stated “policing, particularly with a SWAT team, is a dangerous, high-stress profession where officers are forced to make important split decisions in defense of themselves and fellow officers, especially when weapons are involved. Weapons are drawn and used when officers are faced with significant safety threats.”
“Officer Hannemen quickly encountered Mr. Locke who was armed with a handgun and made the decision to use deadly force. No officer goes into a dangerous setting like this wanting to use a weapon. That decision was not taken lightly, and that decision to use deadly force will affect these officer, their families, and the family of Mr. Locke for the rest of their lives.”
Locke’s family also released a statement.
Karen Wells, Amir’s mother said that she and his father Andre Locke had “the talk” with her son on how to behave and do “what they needed to do whenever they encountered police officers” because of the racially profiling “unarmed Black males” face in this country.
“My son was executed on 2/2 of 22, And now his dreams have been destroyed,” Wells said about her 22-year-old.
The family will be represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
Crump shared that the family is “just flabbergasted at the fact that Amir was killed in this way.” He added as he addressed the “No Knock” warrant, “They didn’t even give him a chance.”
He took to Twitter to draw the connection to Locke and Taylor.
“As #BreonnaTaylor showed us, no-knock warrants have deadly consequences for innocent law-abiding Black people! @MinneapolisPD executed a no-knock warrant yesterday at 6:48 am, killing Amir Locke while he was wrapped in a blanket on the couch. Now we demand #JusticeForAmirLocke!!
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Rey said he is putting a moratorium on no knock warrants.
During this time, he is asking that law enforcement review and revise department policy on the controversial tactic. Rey wants the department to work with two experts who helped draft Breonna’s Law, the ban on no knock warrants in Louisville.
“No matter what information comes to light,” Frey remarks in a prepared statement. “It won’t change the fact that Amir Locke’s life was cut short.”
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