Amir Locke is the latest young Black man shot to death by Minneapolis cops
Just seconds after bursting through the door to conduct a “no-knock” raid, police opened fire and killed the 22-year-old, who’d been sleeping on a friend’s sofa.
Minneapolis is reeling once again after the city’s infamously troubled police department shot and killed Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, during an early-morning “no-knock” raid Wednesday.
Body camera footage released after Locke was killed shows SWAT officers unlocking the door to a unit in a downtown Minneapolis apartment complex, identifying themselves as officers serving a warrant only as they streamed through the door. Less than 10 seconds later, Locke — who’d been sleeping under covers on a sofa in the living room — is seen sitting up, gun in hand, only to be immediately shot several times by officer Mark Hanneman, collapsing backwards before the footage abruptly ends. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. (You can view the footage here, but be forewarned that it is upsetting.)
Locke’s death prompted an immediate and furious response from social and racial justice activists across the Twin Cities, who demanded accountability from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and acting Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman. According to Huffman, Locke was shot while Minneapolis police executed a search warrant raid on behalf of their St. Paul counterparts, confirming that despite earlier references to Locke as a “suspect” by her department, he was not actually named in the warrant. Speaking with the Star Tribune newspaper, a source with knowledge of the raid confirmed that St. Paul police had initially requested a standard warrant from the Minneapolis Police Department — tapped in this instance as the resource best suited for an operation within their own city — only for the MPD to change the warrant to accommodate a “no-knock” entry, instead.
According to Locke’s father, his son was a licensed handgun owner who’d purchased his firearm for protection while he made his rounds as a delivery driver. “He wanted to protect himself while doing DoorDash to make sure that nothing happens to him,” Andrew Locke told reporters during a press conference Friday morning.
Like it did in the eventual conviction of former MPD officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, the office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has agreed to work with the Hennepin county attorney to oversee the investigation into Locke’s death.
“Amir Locke’s life mattered,” Ellison said in a statement released Friday. “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.”
As part of his re-election campaign last year, Frey ran on having “brought accountability to the department’s use of ‘no-knock warrants,’ and put in place new reporting standards that help ensure de-escalation tactics are the foundation for police encounters.” His campaign website has reportedly scrubbed a page trumpeting that he’d “banned no-knock warrants,” which came under intense public scrutiny after police shot and killed 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor during a similar raid in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020. Following Taylor’s death, the Louisville City Council unanimously voted to ban the practice.
“What I’ll miss most about Amir, my baby boy, is his laugh, his beautiful smile,” Locke’s mother Karen Wells said during Friday’s press conference. “Make sure that our son gets justice,” she added.