No charges filed in no-knock warrant killing of Amir Locke
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota prosecutors have declined to file charges against a Minneapolis police SWAT team officer who fatally shot Amir Locke while executing an early morning no-knock search warrant in February. The 22-year-old Locke, who was Black, was staying on a couch in an apartment when authorities entered without knocking as part of an investigation into a homicide.
Locke was not named in the warrant.
Authorities said he was shot seconds after he pointed a gun in the direction of officers. Locke’s family has questioned that, saying body camera footage appeared to show he was startled awake. The footage shows Locke was holding a gun before he was shot.
Hubbard Broadcasting’s sister-station KSTP reports that the attorney’s office cited “insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges” and said prosecutors “would be unable to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of Minnesota’s use-of-deadly-force statute that authorizes the use of force.”
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According to KSTP, body camera footage of the incident shows the SWAT team unlock the door to the apartment with a key, open the door and yell, “Police search warrant!” as they step into the apartment. Locke is seen on a couch underneath a blanket in the living room and only appears to rise after an officer kicks the sofa.
When Locke emerges, he is seen holding a handgun pointed at the ground with his finger pointed out and off the trigger. At that point, Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Hanneman fires shots from off camera. The entire encounter lasts roughly nine seconds.
A joint statement from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and Minnesota Attorney General’s Office stated “there is insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges in this case” after “a thorough review of all available evidence.”
“Specifically, the State would be unable to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of Minnesota’s use-of-deadly-force statute that authorizes the use of force by Officer Hanneman,” the statement reads. “Nor would the State be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a criminal charge against any other officer involved in the decision-making that led to the death of Amir Locke.”
Despite declining to file charges, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and Minnesota Attorney General’s Office said in the joint statement that Locke “should be alive today, and his death is a tragedy.” The offices also said Locke may be alive if a no-knock warrant wasn’t used and called the warrants “highly risky,” adding that they “pose significant dangers to both law enforcement and the public.”
“Local, state, and federal policy makers should seriously weigh the benefits of no-knock warrants,” the offices said in the joint statement.