Cops on the Amir Locke Raid Were Already Facing a Lawsuit over Alleged ‘Hunting’ of BLM Protesters
The Minneapolis Police Department’s national scandals are so numerous they’re starting to overlap. The killing of Amir Locke during a no-knock raid last week has — yet again — brought the department’s violent tactics under scrutiny. And some of the same officers who were involved in that raid are linked to another major MPD scandal: The “hunting” of protesters in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.
Two members of the SWAT teams assigned to the Locke raid also took part in the Minneapolis PD’s wanton aggression against citizens out after curfew in late May, 2020. Riot cops were ordered to cruise around the city, take aim at protesters and others on the street with less-lethal munitions and, “Fuck ‘em up.” A commander was caught on a body camera praising this activity as a “goin’ out hunting.” There has been no announced accountability for officers on duty that night.
Now a police incident report records that two officers named in a civil suit stemming from the hunting scandal, Kristopher Dauble and Nathan Sundberg, were assigned to the Feb. 2 raid that killed Locke. (Neither Dauble nor Sundberg were the shooter in the Locke case.) “I’m concerned that these officers, involved prior use-of-force issues, are still operating in high-risk operations,” attorney Eric Rice tells Rolling Stone.
Rice represents Jaleel Stallings, who was fired upon, unannounced, with less-lethal rounds by cops cruising in an unmarked white van on the night of May 30, 2020. Stallings believed he was under deadly attack by criminals and fired back with a pistol. (No one was hit.) Only then did the police identify themselves. Stallings was allegedly beaten while surrendering — suffering a fractured eye socket — and later put on trial for serious criminal charges, including attempted second-degree murder and first degree assault.
A jury acquitted Stallings, agreeing he’d acted in self defense. And he recently filed a federal civil suit against nearly 20 Minneapolis police officers. The litigation alleges that officer Dauble “pointed a 40mm launcher” a less-lethal gun that shoots foam-tipped impact rounds “and attempted to shoot at Mr. Stallings in violation of his constitutional rights.” Sundberg, who rode beside Dauble in the van, is sued for allegedly failing to intervene when he “saw unnecessary force being used against Mr. Stallings.” Both officers are sued for “conduct that shocked the conscience when they participated in a recklessly-flawed investigation” that produced criminal charges against Stallings.
Rice highlighted the overlap between officers in the Stallings and Locke scandals in testimony before a Minnesota state House public-safety committee on Feb. 4. He described his frustration at the lack of accountability for the officers from the hunting episode: “They’re still operating, business as usual, and here we have another incident that further erodes public trust,” Rice told lawmakers. (Dauble and Sundberg were first identified, by name, in reporting by the nonprofit news organization the Minnesota Reformer, which also highlighted Rice’s testimony.) The Minneapolis Police did not respond to a request to comment from Rolling Stone.
Amir Locke, 22, was shot to death in the morning hours of Feb. 2. The Minneapolis police were executing a no-knock raid on a seventh floor apartment, on behalf of the homicide unit of the Saint Paul Police Department. Locke was not a suspect named in the warrant. According to court documents released on Feb 8, Locke was staying at the apartment of a cousin.
Police body camera footage shows officers using a key to enter the apartment shortly before 7 a.m. They announced their presence only after opening the door. Locke can be seen, awakening, startled under a blanket, reaching for a handgun. (Locke’s family asserts that he owned the firearm legally.) Locke was then shot dead by an officer identified as Mark Hannerman. The encounter transpired in less than 10 seconds.
The police had been searching for 17-year-old Mekhi Speed — a suspect in a second-degree homicide case, charging documents. Also a cousin of Locke’s, Speed sometimes stayed in the unit where the killing took place, which was rented to his brother’s girlfriend. Speed’s mother rents a unit in the same complex that was also searched. Speed was not discovered in the building on the day of the raid; he was apprehended on Feb. 6 in Winona, a town more than 100 miles from Minneapolis.
Locke’s killing has drawn comparison to the slaying of Breonna Taylor, and has sparked national protests, as well as drawing condemnation from diverse corners including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.
Although George Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin, is now serving a 22 year prison sentence for murder, far-reaching reform of the Minneapolis PD has not materialized — leaving even fellow Minnesota law enforcement leaders fed up. “I’m telling you, from the top down, that agency needs an overhaul,” Sheriff Sean Deringer of neighboring Wright County declared December, adding he was “appalled by the lack of leadership” in the department. Derringer insisted that the reputation of law enforcement officials across the state was suffering because they were “all cast in the same barrel of crap coming out of Minneapolis proper.”