No charges filed in Amir Locke’s no-knock warrant murder

MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) — Minnesota prosecutors declined to file charges Wednesday against a Minneapolis Police SWAT team officer who executed a no-knock search warrant early in the morning at a downtown apartment in February, Amir Locke. was shot.

Locke, 22, who was black, was living on a couch in the apartment when officers entered neighboring St. Paul on February 2 without being knocked down as part of a murder investigation.

Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, whose offices reviewed the case, said that after reviewing all evidence, they determined that Officer Mark Hahneman was justified in firing his weapon. He told a news conference that Hahnemann’s body camera footage showed Locke pointed his gun at the officer.

Locke’s parents have said their son was shocked by what they saw in another officer’s body camera footage released shortly after the shooting. His mother, Karen Wells, has called his death “a gallows”. Through their lawyers, they said they were “deeply disappointed” by the decision.

Locke, whose name was not on the warrant, was shot seconds after showing the gun. Body camera footage shows Locke holding a gun before shooting it.

Ellison and Freeman said that Locke would never have been shot if the no-knock warrant was warranted. But he said there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hahnemann had violated any legal element of state statute when police could use deadly force.

“It would be immoral for us to file a charge in a case in which we know we will not win because the law does not support the charges,” Ellison said.

Watch: Minneapolis Police Fire for No-Knock Warrants After Amir Locke’s Death

Locke died while three former Minneapolis police officers were being tried in federal court in St. Paul over the murder of George Floyd. It re-examined the protests and no-knock search warrants. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced an immediate moratorium on such warrants, and on Tuesday, he formalized a new policy that will take effect Friday, requiring officers to knock and wait before entering residences. will be required. Some lawmakers are also pushing for a statewide ban on no-knock warrants, except in rare circumstances.

Locke’s family was outraged that the police initially called him a suspect, which the police later called a mistake.

“Aamir was not a suspect. Our investigation found no evidence that he had any role in the murder investigation that brought the police to his doorstep on February 2 at 6:48 pm,” Ellison said. “Aamir was a victim. He was never suspected. Should have said.”

In their applications for search warrants of Minneapolis apartments and other locations, officials said a no-knock warrant was necessary to protect the public and officers as they searched for guns, drugs and clothing worn by people suspected of violent murder. Were. Authorities said officers be allowed to conduct searches without knocking, and outside 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., because the suspects being sought in the January 10 murder of Otis the Elder had a history of violence. Is.

Locke died seconds after the SWAT team entered the apartment where his family said he was living. Body camera video shows an officer using a key to unlock the door and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniform and protective vests, time-stamped at around 6:48, as soon as As they enter, they shout repeatedly, “Police, search warrant!” They say “Hands!” also shout and “Get on the ground!”

The video shows an officer kicking a sectional couch, and Locke is seen wrapped in a comforter while holding a pistol. Three shots are heard and the video ends.

Ellison and Freeman said they had lengthy talks with Locke’s parents Wednesday before announcing they would not file charges.

“They, like us, are very disappointed with the no-knock warrant. They, like us, believe that Amir Locke would be here today if the no-knock warrant had not been used,” Freeman said, refusing to divulge more details of his reaction.

The Locke family statement said they and their legal team are “strongly committed to their continued fight for justice in the civil court system, strongly advocating for the passage of local and national legislation, and for all Takes every necessary step to ensure accountability. Responsible for cutting Aamir’s life too short unnecessarily.”

Alison would not confirm Locke’s family statements that she is allowed to carry a gun. He stated that it was “not relevant” to his and Freeman’s analysis and did not influence their decision, noting that Locke was in a home and legally owned a gun because that did not prevent him from legally having one. Was.

Although Locke was not named in the warrant, his 17-year-old cousin Mekhi Camden Speed ​​was named and charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the Elder murder.

A search warrant was issued as part of the investigation into the death of the elder. The 38-year-old father, Elder, was found shot and lying on the street in what police believe was an apparent robbery. According to court documents, drugs and money were found in the SUV of the elder.

The Police Department hired Hahnemann in 2015. City records show that three complaints were made about him and he was all locked up without being disciplined, but they give no details. Data on the website of the citizens’ group Communities United against police brutality shows the fourth complaint in 2018 remains open. No details given.

Associated Press writer Amy Forlity contributed.

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