Minneapolis Police Release Video of Amir Locke’s Killing by an Officer – The New York Times


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Amir Locke, 22, was fatally shot as the police carried out a search warrant. He was lying under a blanket until an officer kicked the couch, revealing a gun, body camera video shows.

A screenshot from body camera footage of Minneapolis police officers entering an apartment with a warrant before fatally shooting a man.
Credit...Minneapolis Police Department

Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis on Friday announced a moratorium on no-knock warrants one day after the Police Department released body camera footage of its SWAT team fatally shooting a man who was lying on a couch under a blanket during an early-morning raid.

The man who was killed, Amir Locke, 22, had a gun in his hand, but it is unclear whether he was aware that police officers had entered the apartment shortly before 7 a.m.

Keith Ellison, the attorney general of Minnesota, who led the prosecutions of former police officers in the killings of George Floyd and Daunte Wright, said his office would join a review of the police shooting. The mayor said no-knock warrants could not be requested or conducted while the city evaluated its current policy.

The graphic and brief video released by the Police Department on Thursday night shows the encounter from Wednesday morning, when its SWAT team had been carrying out a warrant for the Saint Paul Police Department’s homicide unit.

In the video, an officer is seen quietly turning a key in the apartment door before officers file in and begin to yell.

“Police! Search warrant!” several officers are heard shouting.

“Hands, hands!” one officer says.

“Get on the ground!” another yells.

One officer kicked the back of the couch, jarring Mr. Locke and making a gun visible. The police fired at least three times in response.

The entire encounter took less than 10 seconds.

In a news release published the day of the shooting, the Police Department said officers had performed emergency aid on Mr. Locke, who died at a nearby hospital.

“I’m under no illusion that processing this video will be easy,” Amelia Huffman, the city’s interim police chief, said at a news conference on Thursday. “It won’t be. It shouldn’t be. These are wrenching videos to watch. They’re painful, but it’s necessary.”

Chief Huffman said that officers had a warrant for three locations in the apartment complex, and that Mr. Locke was not named in the original warrant.

Mr. Ellison, the state attorney general, said on Friday that his office would partner with the Hennepin County attorney’s office to review the shooting.

“Amir Locke’s life mattered,” Mr. Ellison said in a statement, promising the Locke family “a fair and thorough review.”

Mr. Ellison led the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who pleaded guilty to federal crimes for the killing of Mr. Floyd, and Kimberly Potter, a former Minnesota police officer who was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Mr. Wright.

The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement that one officer fired shots at Mr. Locke, and it released the personnel file of Officer Mark Hanneman.

Ben Crump, a lawyer representing Mr. Locke’s family, compared the shooting of Mr. Locke, who was Black, to the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker who was fatally shot by Louisville police officers in March 2020 during a botched raid on her apartment.

“If we learned anything from Breonna Taylor it is that no-knock warrants have deadly consequences for innocent, law-abiding Black citizens,” Mr. Crump said at a news conference on Friday.

No-knock warrants allow the police to enter property without first announcing their presence and are primarily used when there is concern that evidence will be destroyed or officers will be put in danger.

Tony Romanucci, another lawyer representing Mr. Locke’s family, said Mr. Locke had “no idea” who was in his apartment. “Had they announced who they were and why they were there, this tragedy could have been averted,” Mr. Romanucci said.

Mayor Frey said in a statement on Friday that no-knock warrants would not be allowed while the city reviewed its policy with experts who helped create “Breonna’s Law,” an ordinance passed after Ms. Taylor’s death that bans no-knock warrants in Louisville.

During the moratorium, which the mayor said was “to ensure safety of both the public and officers,” the police must knock, announce their presence and wait a reasonable amount of time before entering with a warrant.

Mr. Locke’s father, Andre Locke, said at the news conference that his son was the third oldest of eight siblings. He said his son had been working for the food delivery service DoorDash and was “a week away” from moving to Dallas, where his mother, Karen Wells, lives. Andre Locke said that several of his cousins worked in law enforcement and that one of them was a mentor to Amir.

“It was hurtful, it hurt deep to see my son executed, to see our son executed,” Mr. Locke said. “But the part that struck me the most was that he never got a chance to see or to know who killed him.”

Ms. Wells said she and her son would frequently talk on the FaceTime app when they were apart.

“I am going to miss just being able to see my son grow into a man, that’s what I am going to miss,” Ms. Wells said. “I am going to miss the fact that he didn’t, he won’t even get the chance to become a father and give us grandchildren.”

The Minneapolis Police Department has been under scrutiny since Officer Chauvin held his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest in May 2020.

Mr. Floyd’s death generated widespread outrage, and protests across the country that summer called for social justice and police reform. An attempt to change policing in Minneapolis failed in November, when 56 percent of voters rejected a ballot measure that would have replaced the city’s Police Department with a public safety agency.

The release of the footage of Mr. Locke’s death came more quickly than in past cases, and after pressure from Representative Ilhan Omar and state officials.

Ten members of the Minneapolis delegation of the State House of Representatives had called for the footage to be released immediately in a letter to Mayor Frey and Chief Huffman.

“Minneapolis has a long path before us in establishing a trusting, effective and professional relationship between its Police Department and community,” the representatives wrote.

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