It took less than 10 seconds for Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team officers to shoot 22-year-old Amir Locke after they entered the apartment where he was sleeping, according to body camera footage of the incident.
The officers showed up shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday to execute a no-knock warrant that didn’t even name Locke.
Now, Locke’s family is saying his death was an “execution,” one that’s reminiscent of the murder of George Floyd in the same city and the police killing of Breanna Taylor in Louisville during a similar raid. A caravan of protesters even showed up to the Minneapolis police chief’s home.
Minneapolis Police Department officers raided the apartment where Locke was sleeping while executing a no-knock search warrant for the St. Paul police department, which was investigating a homicide. Police body camera footage shows Minneapolis Police Department officers unlocking the apartment’s front door with a key without announcing themselves, then storming into the apartment.
Once inside, the officers begin yelling that they’re the police and stumble onto a couch on which Locke appears to be sleeping under a blanket, body camera footage shows They order Locke to put up his “hands, hands” and to “get on the fucking ground” and one kicks the couch.Locke attempts to stand up from under a blanket, and has a gun—for which his family said he had legally obtained a permit—but does not fire it. An initial statement from Minneapolis police said they had encountered Locke “armed with a handgun pointed in the direction of officers.”
An officer, later identified as Mark Hanneman, fired three shots at Locke, the footage shows.
Locke was treated by officers and paramedics at the scene before being transported to a hospital, where he later died. The Hennepin County medical examiner later said Locke’s death was a homicide as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.
Hanneman, who’s been a Minneapolis police officer for seven years, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“Amir didn't deserve what happened. Amir was surprised. Life was taken from him in an unjust way. My son was startled,” Amir’s father Andre Locke said. “Amir did what any law-abiding citizen would do to protect himself. Amir, we won’t let this be swept under the rug.”
Amir Locke was an aspiring musician and entrepreneur who was planning on moving to Dallas this week to be closer to his mother, Karen Wells, and work on his music career, his family said at a press conference last week. His father described him as a “bright light, and he deserves to be able to shine.”
Both his parents described his death as an “execution.” Hanneman, who has been a Minneapolis police officer for seven years, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Minneapolis Police Department’s initial statement referred to Locke as a “suspect” four times, but interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman later said that Locke’s name was not included on the no-knock warrant. St. Paul police did not ask for the no-knock warrant, but Minneapolis Police Department sought and obtained both a no-knock and a knock warrant when executing the warrant, KARE 11 reported last week. (The warrants themselves are under seal until a court orders their release, St. Paul police told KARE 11.)
A no-knock warrant is essentially what it sounds like: a warrant signed by a judge enabling officers to enter a person’s home without announcing themselves. No-knock warrants first came into use during the early years of the War on Drugs, but the tactic has come under increasing scrutiny since Louisville police killed EMT Breonna Taylor during an early-morning raid in March 2020.
It’s disputed, however, whether the raid that resulted in Louisville police killing Taylor was a no-knock or “knock and announce” raid. An investigation by Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron found it was the latter, but after interviews with a dozen of Taylor’s neighbors, only one told the New York Times that they heard officers announce themselves before battering in her door.
On Friday Mayor Jacob Frey—who claimed he ended no-knock warrants when he ran for and won re-election last year—announced an immediate moratorium on no-knock raids. “No matter what information comes to light, it won’t change the fact that Amir Locke’s life was cut short,” Frey said in a statement.
Frey also announced that the city was contracting civil rights activist DeRay McKesson and Eastern Kentucky University professor Dr. Pete Kraska, who both worked with the Louisville government in passing “Breonna’s Law” banning no-knock warrants, “to review and suggest revisions to the department’s policy.”
“If we’ve learned anything from Breonna Taylor, it’s that we know no-knock warrants have deadly consequences for Black American citizens,” Ben Crump, the prominent civil rights attorney who is representing Locke’s family, told reporters Friday.
Kentucky passed a law limiting no-knock warrants last year, for example, and in September, the Justice Department put restrictions on no-knock warrants and chokeholds but stopped short of banning them entirely.
Locke’s killing has sparked a new round of protests in Minneapolis. On Friday, a caravan gathered near Minneapolis City Hall, blaring horns and protesting Locke’s death at the hands of police. On Sunday, protesters demonstrated outside of Huffman’s home.
The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a gun rights group in the state, condemned Locke’s death as “completely avoidable” and said Locke “reached for a legal means of self-defense while he sought to understand what was happening” in a statement.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office led the prosecution of and won a felony murder conviction against former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin for Floyd’s murder, released a statement saying his office would work with the Hennepin County Attorney’s office “to conduct a fair and thorough review of the [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] investigation and that we will be guided by the values of accountability and transparency.”
“Amir Locke's life mattered. He was only 22 years old and had his whole life ahead of him,” Ellison said in a statement. “His family and friends must now live the rest of their lives without him.”
The text of this story was changed after publication.
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