Police will not be charged in the death of Amir Locke, a black man shot while on a no-knock warrant

No charges will be filed in the death of Amir Locke, a 22-year-old black man shot by a SWAT officer during a warrantless raid in Minneapolis in February, officials said Wednesday.

Hennepin County District Attorney Michael Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement they declined to press charges in his death.

Officials said they determined that after a “thorough review,” “there is insufficient admissible evidence to bring criminal charges in this case.”

Amir Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, said Wednesday afternoon after the decision was announced, “I’m not disappointed, I’m disgusted with the city of Minneapolis.”

The statement by attorneys said the state would not be able to refute “beyond a reasonable doubt” the elements of Minnesota’s use of lethal force law that would have authorized the use of force by Mark Hanneman , the officer who shot Locke.

The attorneys also said the state would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a criminal charge against any other officers involved in the “decision-making that led to Amir Locke’s death.”

Locke was killed on February 2 after officers broke into the apartment he was staying in and found him on the couch covered with a blanket. Minneapolis police said the officer opened fire after seeing the barrel of a gun appear from under the blanket.

Locke was shot three times in the incident.

The attorneys explained that under Minnesota law, peace officers are authorized to use deadly force in the line of duty to protect other officers or another from death or grievous bodily harm. .

They said at a press conference after the announcement that Locke’s hand was seen holding a gun, although his finger was not on the trigger, and at one point was pointed directly at it. on Hanman.

In the statement, the officials said Hanneman perceived the movements as a threat of death or serious bodily harm.

Locke was not a suspect in the search warrant investigation.

His death shook the city of Minneapolis again, nearly two years after the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

“Amir Locke’s life mattered,” the lawyers said in a joint statement. “He should be alive today, and his death is a tragedy. Amir Locke was not a suspect in the underlying Saint Paul criminal investigation nor was he named in the search warrants. Amir Locke is a victim.”

“This tragedy may not have occurred without the no-knock warrant used in this case,” the statement added.

The county attorney and attorney general met with Locke’s family Wednesday morning to again share their condolences ahead of the announcement.

Wells said she was at the National Action Network convention in New York when she heard the news of her son’s case. She sat on a panel alongside other black family members who have lost loved ones to violence, including Ahmaud Arbery’s mother.

She said she learned of the decision at the convention, a decision she assumed city officials might have made intentionally.

“Once again, Minneapolis, you’re showing who you really are and who you stand for. I’m not going to give up,” she said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Wells sent a message to Hanneman.

“You may have been found not guilty, but in my eyes, being the mother that I am, you are guilty,” she said. “You will continue to be restless because my baby’s spirit will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

Reverend Al Sharpton called the decision “a slap in the face, not just for this mother, but for all of us”.

He said they would take the matter to the Justice Department for review and called for no-knock warrants to be banned nationwide.

Locke’s family were “deeply disappointed” by the decision not to charge Hanneman, attorneys Ben Crump, Jeff Storms and Antonio Romanucci said in a statement. joint statement Wednesday.

“The tragic death of this young man, who was not named in the search warrant and who had no criminal record, should never have happened,” the statement said. “The family and their legal team are firmly committed to their continued fight for justice in the civil justice system, advocating fiercely for the passage of local and national legislation, and taking all other necessary steps to ensure the responsibility of all those responsible for the necessary excision. Amir’s life is far too short.”

Amir Locke's photo is seen during a heavy snowstorm at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on February 22, 2022.
Amir Locke’s photo is seen during a heavy snowstorm at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on February 22, 2022.Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

“No family should ever suffer like Amir’s again,” the statement concluded.

The use of no-knock warrants has been at the heart of fierce criticism of the Minneapolis Police Department — particularly following the death of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

After Locke’s death, Mayor Jacob Frey ended the no-knock warrants. On Tuesday, the mayor signed into law a new warrant and entry policy that prohibits the request and execution of all search warrants without a knock by Minneapolis police.

The department is still under investigation into the habits and practices of the Department of Justice.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Freeman and Ellison acknowledged that city residents have been calling for meaningful police reform for years.

“What I think we can try to do that will maybe accomplish some of the reforms is to get officers to be in situations less often that they’re in and think they have to use force deadly,” Freeman said.

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