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Minneapolis Mayor Issues Moratorium On ‘No-Knock’ Warrants In Wake Of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting

Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has issued a moratorium on “no-knock warrants” in the wake of the fatal officer-involved shooting of a man who pointed a gun in officers’ direction last week.

An eight-person Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) SWAT team encountered 22-year-old Amir Locke as they were executing a search warrant in connection with a St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) homicide investigation on Feb. 2, KSTP reported.

Bodycam footage of the raid showed Locke pointing a handgun in the direction of an officer after they made entry.

MPD Officer Mark Hanneman, a seven-year veteran of the department, responded by opening fire on the armed man, KMSP reported.

Locke was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Locke was not named in the search warrant, and MPD Interim Chief Amelia Huffman said investigators are still looking into “if or how Mr. Locke is connected” to the homicide case in St. Paul, Bring Me The News reported.

“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 on Feb. 4, according to KSTP. “To ensure safety of both the public and officers until a new policy is crafted, I’m issuing a moratorium on both the request and execution of such warrants in Minneapolis.”

No-knock warrants will only be permitted in incidents where there is an imminent threat of harm during the moratorium.

Frey issued the moratorium amid heavy criticism from Locke’s family and community activists, many of whom have demanded Officer Hanneman be fired and criminally charged, according to KSTP.

“At the end of the day, I believe that (Amir) was executed by the MPD and I want the police officer that murdered my son to be prosecuted and fired,” Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, told KSTP. “My son didn’t deserve what happened to him.”

The mayor said the city will work with national experts Pete Kraska and DeRay McKesson from Eastern Kentucky University to identify areas where they believe changes should be made to MPD policy.

“Over the last several years, our team has been working with jurisdictions across the country to implement meaningful changes to search warrant execution laws and policies,” McKesson told KSTP. “On our call, it was clear that Mayor Frey is committed to making changes to these processes in order to protect lives in Minneapolis and we are ready to lend a hand in this critical work.”

Kraska said he’s looking forward to the task.

“I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and start in on this substantive work with Mayor Frey and City of Minneapolis staff who are demonstrating their dedication to real change through this collaborative partnership,” he told KSTP. “I stand ready to put my academic research and expertise to work for the people of Minneapolis to ensure the MPD is not only in line with industry best-practices, but pushing to be at the forefront of this critical area of police reform.”

The incident occurred at 1117 South Marquette Avenue on the seventh floor of the Bolero Flats apartment building at approximately 6:48 a.m. on Feb. 2, KSTP reported.

Bodycam footage released Feb. 3 showed an officer unlocking the apartment door just before the officers “loudly and repeatedly announced their presence” and entered the apartment, the MPD said in a news release.

They continued announcing themselves as they made their way into the living room area towards a couch, where a figure could be seen moving beneath a white blanket.

One officer kicked the couch and ordered the suspect to get onto the ground.

That’s when the suspect pointed a handgun in another officers’ direction, resulting in the officer firing at him multiple times, according to the press release.

“That’s the moment when the officer had to make a split-second decision, to assess the circumstances and to determine whether he felt like there was an articulable threat, that the threat was of imminent harm – great bodily harm or death – and that he needed to take action right then to protect himself and his partners,” Chief Huffman said, according to Bring Me The News.

“Ultimately, that decision, whether that threshold was met will be examined by the county attorney’s office that reviews this case,” she added.

“Officers immediately provided emergency aid and carried the suspect down to the lobby to meet paramedics,” the MPD said in the press release.

Locke was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he succumbed to his wounds.

According to a Minneapolis Fire Department incident report, Locke was shot once in the right wrist and twice in the chest, according to KSTP.

The Locke family’s attorneys, Jeff Storms and Ben Crump, said Locke was not named in the search warrant and legally possessed the gun he pointed at police, KMSP reported.

Neither of those factors are relevant in determining if the officer’s shooting of Locke was legal.

“Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans,” Crump wrote in a statement, according to KMSP.

“This is yet another example of why we need to put an end to these kinds of search warrants so that one day, Black Americans will be able to sleep safely in their beds at night,” he continued. “We will continue pushing for answers in this case so that Amir’s grieving family can get the closure they deserve.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting, KSTP reported.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends who loved the man who lost his life today and with the community because these events are a wrenching loss,” Chief Huffman said. “They’re traumatic not only for those who knew him but everyone who lives in Minneapolis and for the officers who were on the scene as well.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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