Prosecutors announced Wednesday they will not file charges against the Minneapolis police officer who Fatally Shot Amir Locke during a February no-knock raid.
“There is insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges in this case. 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 the officer, Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said in a joint statement.
Officer Mark Hanneman shot Locke three times less than ten seconds after a SWAT team entered the apartment where Locke was sleeping to serve a search warrant early in the day. Officers from the Minneapolis Police Department were executing the search warrant as part of a St. Paul homicide investigation, but Locke was not listed on the search warrant, interim Chief Amelia Huffman told reporters after the shooting.
Body camera footage released by Minneapolis police showed officers quietly opening the door to the apartment with a key and then repeatedly shouting commands as they entered the home. Locke, who was wrapped in a blanket on the couch, starts to rise. He can be seen holding a gun, which his family said he legally owned to protect himself, with his finger off the trigger. The officer then fires three shots, striking Locke twice in the chest and once in the wrist, and the video ends.
Locke, 22, did not live in the apartment where he was killed. Police were searching for suspects connected to the January shooting of Otis Elder, 38, in nearby St. Paul. Locke’s cousin and another teenager have been charged in the homicide investigation that led to the fatal raid.
Locke’s death sparked multiple days of protest in Minneapolis, which became the epicenter of a nationwide racial justice protest movement following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.
NO-KNOCK WARRANTIES:A growing legacy of controversy, revised laws, tragic deaths
Civil rights groups, including the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Locke’s family and their attorneys demanded the Hanneman be fired in the wake of the shooting. Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, called his death “an execution.”
Locke’s family and attorney Ben Crump have called for a ban on no-knock warrantsrenewing a nationwide debate sparked by the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Ellison and Freeman said the case shows no-knock warrants are “highly risky” and can pose “significant dangers” to law enforcement and public, including those who aren’t committing a crime.
The Minneapolis Police Department will be prohibited from executing no-knock search warrants after Friday except under “exigent circumstances,” Mayor Jacob Frey announced Tuesday. Officers will be required to knock and wait 20 to 30 seconds before entering a residence.
The department, which survived a push to replace it with a department of public safety last year, is still facing a Justice Department investigation of its policies and practices.
Contributing: The Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism