BodyCam Shows Minneapolis Cops Shooting Black Man During No-knock Warrant
In the early morning hours Wednesday, Minneapolis police officers gently placed a key in a city apartment door before bursting through the doorway yelling “Police! Search warrant!”
In the seconds that followed, a Black man named Amir Locke — apparently asleep and shown to be holding a gun upon awakening — was shot and killed.
The shooting by an officer on the SWAT team, in a city that came to represent ground zero for the police reform movement, raised questions from Locke’s family and others about the city’s warrant policy.
In total, the city released 14 seconds of real-time video.
It’s not clear what is contained in the warrant, and Minneapolis officials have said the totality of circumstances leading to their officer shooting Locke are now under investigation by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Police said Locke was not named in any search warrants. Attorneys for the man’s family say he was in legal possession of his firearm.
The warrants are sealed to “protect the integrity of the investigation” and “until the court directs otherwise,” Steve Linders, public information officer with the St. Paul Police Department, which is investigating the homicide relating to the warrants, wrote in a statement.
From the limited amount of video the city released, it’s not clear how Minneapolis SWAT members approached the apartment or how they reacted after the shooting.
According to the Star Tribune, interim Minneapolis police chief Amelia Huffman said at a Thursday news conference that “both a knock and no-knock search warrant were obtained” for three locations within the building where the officer shot the man, but she did not elaborate.
The fatal shooting brings further scrutiny to the use of no-knock warrants and shines a spotlight on a police department that has faced criticism before. The city garnered significant national media attention in November of 2020 when it announced, amid a nationwide reckoning over police policies prompted in part by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and the shooting of Breonna Taylor during warrant service in Louisville, that it was changing its policy.
Some touted as an “accomplishment” that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey banned no-knock warrants. But the city did not ban no-knock warrants, and like most police department policies, its policy gave wide leeway to field supervisors to make decisions based on conditions they encounter and allows for no-knock warrants in certain situations.
Frey announced Friday night that he was temporarily banning police from seeking and executing no-knock warrants, though like the policy change 14 months ago, it still allows for no-knock warrants in certain situations.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday that he asked Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to join in his review of the shooting.
“We will be working with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to ensure a thorough and complete evaluation,” Freeman said in a statement. “Thereafter we will decide together, based on the law and evidence, whether criminal charges should be brought.”
Ellison, in a separate statement, vowed 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 friends must now live the rest of their lives without him.”