The family of Amir Locke, 22, is still grappling with the loss of their loved one after he was killed by Minneapolis Police in a deadly no-knock warrant encounter.
“Never would I have imagined that I would be standing here talking about the execution of my son by the Minneapolis Police Department,” said Karen Well, Amir Locke’s mother.
Just before 7 in the morning on Feb. 2, Minneapolis Police executed a search warrant on behalf of the Saint Paul Police Department, but the kind of warrant executed was a no-knock warrant.
Released body camera video shows nine officers storming an apartment to find Locke sleeping on a couch wrapped in a blanket with his gun in hand. Within nine seconds of entering the apartment, Officer Mark Hanneman fired shots that killed Locke.
Later that same day, Minneapolis police released a news release saying, “Officers encountered a male who was armed with a handgun pointed in the direction of officers. Shots were fired, and the adult male suspect was struck.”
Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman revealed in a news conference the next day that Locke was not named in the search warrant. Language used in the initial police statement to describe Locke added to the trauma of Locke’s loss and fueled activist and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong’s suspicions of an attempted cover-up before pressure from the community mounted for greater transparency.
“I felt like it was the anatomy of a cover-up,” Armstrong said. She went on to say, “based on the police narratives and the convoluted way the story was told, Amir Locke’s gun was sent to the media with bullets to make it look like this was an armed and dangerous criminal.”
The search warrant has not been made public, but with the arrest of the suspect which initiated the search warrant in the first place, the Saint Paul Police Department says, “The search warrants related to the case will likely be unsealed after charges have been filed.”
Jeff Storms, one of the attorneys representing Locke’s family says, he’s saddened to see how Minneapolis police tried to frame what happened and Locke as a suspect rather than a victim. Storms also says Locke legally owned his gun and disputes police claims he aimed it at officers.
“If you look at the still images of the gun in his hand, despite him being jarred from sleep and having a moment to wake up and realize what was going on, he had his finger down on the barrel pointing his gun away, and he was exercising textbook trigger discipline because the young man had no idea what the threat was, and appears to be better trained at the use of his firearm than the officer who shot him,” Storms said.
Storms says the family is pleased to see Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is involved with the investigation. Ellison prosecuted George Floyd’s murderer, Derek Chauvin and Daunte Wright’s killer, Kim Potter last year.
The family has a few key demands, most notably, they want Officer Mark Hanneman fired and charged for killing Locke. They also want everyone involved in the approval process of the no-knock warrant fired.
A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department told Atlanta Black Star Hanneman is on paid administrative leave which is standard for officer-involved shootings. The case is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Since the shooting last week, hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets. The Minneapolis NAACP has vowed to change the laws regarding no-knock warrants in the state.
“We’re taking it upon ourselves to go out to the legislature, go out to wherever we need to go and do whatever we need to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Minneapolis NAACP President, Cynthia Wilson said.
As for Locke’s family, Storms says, “they’re obviously crushed, but they’re also showing tremendous strength.”
At an emotional press conference on Friday, Locke’s father, Andre Locke, described his son as “a bright light” who “deserves to be able to shine.”
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