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No charges laid in police killing of Amir Locke

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota prosecutors declined to press charges Wednesday against a Minneapolis police SWAT team officer who fatally shot Amir Locke while executing an early morning no-hit search warrant. in a downtown apartment in February.

Locke, 22, who was black, was lying on a couch in the apartment when authorities entered it without knocking Feb. 2 as part of a homicide investigation in nearby St. Paul.

Locke, who was not named in the warrant, was shot seconds after authorities said he pointed a gun in the direction of officers. Locke’s family questioned this. Body camera footage shows Locke holding a gun before he was shot.

Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office looked into the case, said prosecutors determined that officer Mark Hanneman was justified in firing his weapon.

Amir Locke’s photo is seen during a heavy snowstorm at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 22, 2022.

Kerem Yucel via Getty Images

“After a thorough review of all available evidence, however, there is insufficient admissible evidence to bring criminal charges in this case. Specifically, the state would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of Minnesota’s use of lethal force law that authorizes the use of force by Officer Hanneman. 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,” Ellison and the prosecutor said. of Hennepin County, Michael Freeman, in a joint statement.

Locke’s death came as three former Minneapolis police officers were on trial in federal court in St. Paul for the murder of George Floyd. It sparked protests and a re-examination of no-knock search warrants. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced an immediate moratorium on such warrants, and in March he announced a new policy that requires officers to knock and wait before entering a residence. Some lawmakers have also pushed for a statewide ban on no-knock warrants except in rare circumstances.

In their requests for search warrants of the Minneapolis apartment and other locations, authorities said a no-knock warrant was needed to protect the public and officers as they search for firearms , drugs and clothing worn by violent murder suspects. Authorities asked that officers be allowed to conduct the search without knocking and outside of the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. because suspects wanted in the Jan. 10 murder of Otis Elder had a history of violence.

Locke was killed seconds after the SWAT team entered the apartment where his family said he was staying.

Body camera video shows an officer using a key to unlock the door and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniforms and protective vests, time stamped at approximately 6:48 a.m. As they enter, they repeatedly shout : “Police, search warrant!” They also shout “Hands!” and “Get down!”

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

No charges laid in police killing of Amir Locke
In this image taken from Minneapolis Police Department body camera video and released by the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis police enter an apartment Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, moments before shooting 22-year-old Amir Locke .

Minneapolis Police Department via Associated Press

Locke’s parents said it appeared to them their son woke up with a start and his mother, Karen Wells, called his death an “execution”.

Police said Locke was not named in the search warrant. His 17-year-old cousin, Mekhi Camden Speed, has been named and charged with two counts of second-degree murder in Elder’s murder.

The search warrants were executed as part of an investigation into Elder’s death. Elder, a 38-year-old father, was found shot dead and lying on the street in what police believe was an apparent robbery. Drugs and cash were found in Elder’s SUV, according to court documents.

The police department hired Hanneman in 2015. City records show three complaints were filed against him and all were closed without disciplinary action, but they don’t give any details. Data from the website of citizen group Communities United Against Police Brutality shows a fourth complaint, in 2018, which remains open. No details were given.
Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed.

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