Protestors continued to take to the streets of Minneapolis Saturday following the death of Amir Locke, who was shot and killed Wednesday morning by a Minnesota Police SWAT team executing a no-knock search warrant.
Bodycam footage released by the city Thursday shows the SWAT team — who were carrying out a search warrant for a homicide suspect — quietly entering the apartment with a front door key and then yelling “Police, search warrant.”
Locke, a 22-year-old black man, is seen on the video sleeping under a blanket on the couch as police walked in; after police kicked the couch, Locke rolled over, revealing a gun in his vicinity. An officer — later identified as Officer Mark Hanneman — immediately opened fire, shooting Locke three times. In the bodycam footage, roughly seven seconds pass between when police entered the apartment and when Locke — who was not a suspect on the search warrant — was fatally killed.
Following the release of the bodycam footage, protestors — as well as members of Locke’s family — marched in downtown Minneapolis on Friday and Saturday, nearly two years after the death of George Floyd in the same city sparked a nationwide protest, as well as promised police reform in Minneapolis, like an official policy governing the use of no-knock warrants.
Amir’s father Andre Locke, who took part in the protest, called for peace in the aftermath of his son’s death, the New York Times reports. “He was responsible. He didn’t deserve to have his life taken from him the way that it was,” Locke said at the protest. “Why couldn’t my son bury me?” Locke, who was not a resident of the apartment, was staying with his cousin at the time of the shooting, a family lawyer said.
On Friday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey instituted a temporary ban on the request and execution of no-knock warrants “to ensure safety of both the public and officers until a new policy is crafted”; in Nov. 2020, Frey announced policy changes that were expected to limit when the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit could execute a “no-knock warrant.” “Outside of limited, exigent circumstances, like a hostage situation, MPD officers will be required to announce their presence and purpose prior to entry,” Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo promised at the time.
The police union Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis initially released a statement Wednesday that said the SWAT officer Hanneman made a “split-second decision to save his life and the lives of fellow officers,” but a new statement Saturday following the release of the bodycam footage was slightly more tempered. “The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will gather the needed facts for the investigation and no conclusions should be made until the investigation is complete,” the union said.
Locke’s parents appeared on CNN Saturday, saying that the gun their son had in his possession was legally owned and obtained.
“We’ve seen this time and time again, watching the situation with Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright, George Floyd, and our hearts go out to those families,” Andre Locke said. “We’ve been prepping our boys for years to always obey the law. Every day. It’s not a regular conversation that some white households have.”
Locke’s parents also noted the similarities of their son’s death and that of Breonna Taylor, who was also killed during the execution of a search warrant in Louisville, Kentucky in March 2020, two months before Floyd’s death. “It’s too many of us in our communities that are dealing with this. It’s too many in our communities that continue to deal with this same type of harassment,” Andre Locke said. “It’s so unfortunate that this has happened again, and now it hits home. It hurts.”
Even the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus criticized the shooting, issuing a statement in support of Locke, “a lawful gun owner,” on Friday. “Mr. Locke did what many of us might do in the same confusing circumstances, he reached for a legal means of self-defense while he sought to understand what was happening,” the group’s senior vice president Rob Doar said in the statement.
“The tragic circumstances of Mr. Locke’s death were completely avoidable. It’s yet another example where a no-knock warrant has resulted in the death of an innocent person. In this case, as in others, the public should expect and receive full transparency and accountability from law enforcement agencies that serve and protect our local communities.”
Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison, who promised a “fair and thorough” investigation into Locke’s death, tweeted in a statement, “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.”