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Police involved in fatal shooting of Amir Locke won’t be charged

Associated Press / Christian Monterrosa

No charges will be filed against the police officer who fatally shot 22-year-old Amir Locke during an early morning no-knock warrant raid at a Minneapolis apartment in February.

Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a Wednesday news release that there was “insufficient admissible evidence” to criminally charge Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer Mark Hanneman, who shot and killed Locke, or any other officer involved in the shooting.

Prosecutors said they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hanneman violated the state’s use-of-deadly-force statute, as they noted Locke had aimed a weapon in the direction of “at least one officer” before he was shot. They also said the officers were conducting a raid related to a homicide and suspects were known to possess firearms.

“Amir Locke’s life mattered. He was a young man with plans to move to Dallas, where he would be closer to his mom and – he hoped – build a career as a hip-hop artist, following in the musical footsteps of his father,” Freeman and Ellison wrote in the press release.

“After a thorough review of all available evidence, however, there is insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges in this case,” they continued.

Locke’s family has filed a wrongful death suit against the MPD and the city of Minneapolis in a separate legal suit.

During a Wednesday press conference, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said police conducted an unconstitutional raid on the apartment that created a “life-or-death situation” and said breaking into the apartment was a violation of the Fourth Amendment

Crump added there was a broader problem of police indiscriminately carrying out no-knock warrants against Black people, and said he was looking for data on the neighborhoods and houses they were executing warrants on.

“They think it’s okay to do that to African-American families,” Crump said, alleging warrants against white people involve a polite knock at the door. “For Black people, they kick in the door.”

Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, during the Wednesday conference said her son was a law-abiding citizen who was employed as a Doordash and Instacart driver, adding he had bought a firearm to defend himself in Minneapolis. 

Wells expressed outrage over the prosecutor’s decision not to charge the officers criminally and said her legal team was coming “full force” for the city.

“I am not disappointed. I am disgusted with the city of Minneapolis,” Wells said. “Can you imagine knowing that you’ll never see your 22-year-old baby again?”

In early February, the MPD’s SWAT team served a no-knock warrant at the Bolero Flats apartment in downtown Minneapolis for a suspect in a homicide. Locke was not a suspect on the warrant.

Body-worn camera footage shows officers breaking into the apartment in the early morning hours. The disturbance awakened Locke, who had been sleeping on the couch.

When Locke saw the police, a still image of the footage showed the young man with a gun, which police said he pointed at officers. He was shot multiple times.

The shooting of Locke in the city of Minneapolis — where George Floyd and Daunte Wright were also killed by police in the past two years — led to protests and renewed calls to end the use of no-knock warrants.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jacob Frey announced a new policy prohibiting the use of no-knock warrants by the MPD and requiring officers to repeatedly knock and announce their presence before entering a location.

“We accomplished what we set out to do,” said Frey in a statement. “This policy is among the most forward-looking and extensive in the nation and will help keep both our residents and officers safe.”

Prosecutors on Wednesday said their examination of whether to file criminal charges did not include an evaluation of the decision to seek a no-knock warrant.

Updated: 2:23 p.m.

Tags Amir Locke Amir Locke Ben Crump Criminal charges Hennepin County Keith Ellison Keith Ellison Keith Ellison Mark Hanneman Mark Hanneman Michael Freeman Michael Freeman Minneapolis Minneapolis Minnesota Minnesota no-knock warrant Police shooting

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