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February 3, 2022

Police video shows man shot by officer was on couch, had gun

MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) — A Black man who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police as they were executing a search warrant in a homicide investigation was wrapped in a blanket on a couch when SWAT officers entered the apartment, and displayed a handgun as they shouted at him to show his hands and get on the ground, according to police body camera video released Thursday.

Police identified the man on Thursday as 22-year-old Amir Locke. The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that he had pointed a loaded gun “in the direction of officers,” but authorities have not said if Locke was connected to the homicide investigation or named in the warrant. An incident report said he had two wounds in the chest and one in the right wrist.

The city posted a clip from the body camera video Thursday night, first showing the footage at slow speed and then at regular speed. It 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 about 6:48 a.m. As they enter, they repeatedly shout, “Police, search warrant!” They also shout “Hands!” and “Get on the ground!” The video shows an officer kick a sectional sofa, and Locke begins to emerge from under a blanket, holding a pistol. Three shots are heard, and the video ends.

The city also included a still from the video showing Locke holding the gun, his trigger finger laid aside the barrel. The top of Locke’s head is barely visible.

Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and prominent community activist whom the mayor appointed last year as co-chair on a community safety work group, said Locke’s family told her Locke didn’t live in the apartment, police had not been looking for him and that he wasn’t one of the three suspects named in the warrant. Law enforcement and city authorities have not corroborated those details.

The search warrant was not yet publicly available Thursday. The city, which previously identified the officer as Mark Hanneman, released his personnel file Thursday showing three complaints, all closed without discipline, but gave no details. Data on the website of the citizen group Communities United Against Police Brutality showed a fourth complaint, in 2018, that remains open. No details were given.

Hanneman was hired in 2015. He previously was an officer in the nearby town of Hutchinson.

Locke’s mother, Karen Locke, declined to comment to The Associated Press, referring questions to the family’s attorney, Ben Crump. The civil rights lawyer has won huge settlements for the families of several people killed by police, including $27 million for the family of George Floyd. Crump and the family planned a news conference is planned for Friday.

Levy Armstrong and other activists called for the city to release the body camera video immediately. A statement from Mayor Jacob Frey’s office that came out before the video was made public said he was working with police and the State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension “to ensure that the footage is released as quickly as possible without compromising the BCA’s ability to collect evidence and overall integrity of the investigation.”

Jeff Storms, another attorney for the Locke family, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the family had viewed the body camera footage before it was released.

Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman told reporters Wednesday that the shooting happened just before 7 am, as SWAT officers attempted to serve warrants on behalf of the St. Paul Police Department, which is investigating a homicide.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s statement about the shooting did not say if the SWAT team had a no-knock warrant, but said the officers “repeatedly announced their presence” after they entered and “advanced with continued loud announcements of their presence.”

Levy Armstrong has compared the case to the botched raid in which officers killed Breonna Taylor in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020, which led to calls for change nationwide.

Several state lawmakers from Minneapolis echoed Levy Armstrong’s call for body camera footage to be made public. In a letter to Huffman and Frey, they insisted that “one path to establishing trust between the police department and the community is greater transparency and accountability of police actions.” Among the signatories was Rep. Esther Agbaje, who lives in the building where the raid took place.

The State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is leading the investigation, as it often does for officer-involved shootings.

“The BCA will have additional information once any initial interviews/statements from incident participants and witnesses are complete,” BCA spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said in an email.

The city released some reports and photographs of the gun recovered from the scene on its website Wednesday.

Minneapolis city leaders and law enforcement officials typically withhold police body camera and dashboard camera videos for weeks or even months, citing ongoing investigations as justification.

But not always.

In December 2020, after an officer shot Dolal Idd at a gas station on Minneapolis’ south side, the city released video the next day, saying it showed that the man had fired at officers first. And last April, police in suburban Brooklyn Center released the day after the shooting of Daunte Wright, saying it showed that Officer Kim Potter apparently intended to use her Taser but drew her gun by accident. Potter was convicted of manslaughter in December.

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This story has been corrected to show that police list the victim’s age as 22, rather than 24, as reported earlier by activists. It has also corrected Hanneman’s service to show he was hired in 2015, rather than he was a five-year veteran.

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