Amir Locke: Body camera video shows Minneapolis officers shooting a black man during a no-knock warrant. Lawyers say he was not the target

Within seconds, a black man named Amir Locke – apparently asleep and holding a gun as he awoke – was shot and killed. Police say he was not named in any search warrant before the entry, and attorneys for the man’s family say he was in lawful possession of his firearm. Police said the warrant was related to a homicide investigation.

Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday that he had asked Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to join his review of the shooting.

“We will work with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to ensure a thorough and comprehensive assessment,” Freeman said in a statement. “Afterwards, we will decide together, based on the law and the evidence, whether criminal proceedings should be taken.”

Ellison, in a separate statement, pledged to conduct a “fair and thorough” investigation, adding: “Amir Locke’s life mattered. He was only 22 years old and had his whole life ahead of him. His family and his friends now have to live the rest”. of their life without him.”

Governor says there is ‘a need for further reform’

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, on Friday called for changes to the way search warrants are executed in the state, Locke’s parents described their son as a law-abiding citizen who respected the forces of the order, and community leaders and a gun rights group demanded transparency and accountability in the case.

Walz expressed his condolences in a statement.

“Minnesota made progress last year, enacting statewide restrictions on the use of no-knock warrants,” he said, calling for “additional changes in police policies and practices regarding the execution of search warrants”.

“But the events leading up to Amir Locke’s death illustrate the need for further reform,” the governor said.

During a virtual press conference with civil rights attorney Ben Crump and other attorneys, Locke’s parents described their son as a budding figure in the music industry who wanted to help young people.

“A mother should never have to see her child executed in this way,” said Locke’s mother, Karen Wells.

Wells has vowed to “fight every day” for justice for her son. At a press conference later Friday, Wells called for the officer who shot him to be fired and prosecuted.

“It’s clear to everyone that no legitimate gun owner could have survived this situation,” family attorney Jeff Storms said.

“The police department says they announced (their presence) at the threshold … but you all saw the video, there is no announcement before entering that threshold. identify and they don’t give Amir time to save his own life.”

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, in a statement, said Locke’s death was “completely preventable.”

“Mr. Locke did what many of us could do in the same puzzling circumstances, he sought a legal means of self-defense while trying to figure out what was going on,” said Rob Doar, spokesman for the group, in the press release. .

Family attorneys say Locke was not named in the warrant

Community activists and lawyers for Locke’s family said the shooting demonstrated the failure of reforms that followed previous deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

In May 2020, Minneapolis Police Department officers were implicated in the murder of George Floyd before being fired and charged in his death. National outrage following the killing of Floyd and Breonna Taylor – who was shot by police in Kentucky while making a warrantless entry – has led to sustained protests and calls for law enforcement reform. police.
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That summer, Minneapolis announced a new no-hitter policy aimed at limiting the “likelihood of poor results”. Officials said officers would be required to announce their presence and objective before entering, except in certain circumstances like hostage takings.
“The city of Minneapolis has told the public that it limits the use of no-knock warrants to ‘limit the likelihood of poor outcomes,'” Storms said. “Less than two years later, Amir Locke and his family unnecessarily suffered the worst possible outcome. . Our city needs to do better.”

According to Minneapolis police, Minneapolis officers were executing the warrant related to a homicide investigation in nearby St. Paul.

“At this point, it’s unclear if or how he (Locke) is connected to the St. Paul investigation,” Acting Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman said at a press conference. Thursday evening.

“These events unfold in seconds but the trauma is long lasting. A young man has lost his life, and his friends and family are grieving,” Huffman said, describing it as a sobering moment.

Police body camera footage shows officers entering the house moments before encountering Amir Locke, who was shot and killed.

Body cam video shows the shooting

After police entered the apartment, officers quickly identified a man inside, body camera footage shows.

“Hands! Hands! Hands!” one officer shouts as others shout “Get down!” as they make their way to the back of a couch where a man is seen wrapped in blankets at 6:48 a.m., footage shows. An officer kicks the back of the sofa, appearing to wake the man, who looks up to see the officers all around him.

He starts trying to get up, still wrapped in blankets, and is seen holding a gun. Three shots are then heard from the officers.

A screenshot provided by the police department from body camera video shows the weapon more clearly.

“The officer involved was just outside of frame in the direction the barrel exits cover,” Huffman said.

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Based on the short video and image provided, CNN is unable to independently confirm where the gun was pointed, but has requested body camera video from other responders.

The video was played at multiple speeds – one version in real time, the other two edited by the city to be slowed down. A total of 14 seconds elapse in real time.

“As they got closer, you can see, with an individual emerging from under the blanket, the barrel of a gun, sticking out of the blanket,” Huffman said. “The officer had to make a split-second decision to assess the circumstances and determine if he felt there was an articulate threat, whether the threat was of imminent injury, grievous bodily harm, or dead, and that he had to do the right thing then to protect himself and his partners.”

The initial statement from authorities said “officers encountered a male armed with a handgun pointed in the direction of officers.”

Officer Mark Hanneman, identified by the City of Minneapolis, then shot Locke and punched him. The police department said help was immediately provided as officers took him down the hall to meet paramedics.

Locke was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where he died, police said.

Locke died of multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of death was homicide, according to the county medical examiner.

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Hanneman was placed on administrative leave, as is policy, pending an ongoing investigation, a spokesperson for the city of Minneapolis said. CNN attempted to reach Hanneman and contacted the Minneapolis Police Federation for comment, but received no response.

“The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was notified immediately and is leading the criminal investigation,” Huffman said Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the St. Paul Police Department confirmed to CNN that the investigation into the homicide that prompted the original warrant is still active.

A firearm was also recovered from the apartment, police said.

Crump said in a statement, “Locke, who has multiple law enforcement family members and no criminal history, legally owned a firearm at the time of his death.

“Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic murder of Amir Locke shows a series of no-knock warrants with deadly consequences for black Americans,” Crump said.

Taylor, a 26-year-old ER medical technician, was fatally shot by Louisville officers at her home in a botched police raid in March 2020.

A grand jury did not indict any officers in her death. An officer, Brett Hankison, was charged with indiscriminately shooting into a neighbor’s apartment during the shooting. He pleaded not guilty and the trial is ongoing.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the wrong surname of Amir Locke’s mother. She is Karen Wells.

CNN’s Claudia Dominguez contributed to this report.

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