Minneapolis police have released body camera footage showing the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old Black man earlier this week during a no-knock warrant, a case that has raised tensions in the city and renewed scrutiny upon local law enforcement.
Amir Locke was fatally shot by a SWAT team officer with the Minneapolis Police Department as they carried out a warrant at 6:48 a.m. Wednesday in the 1100 block of Marquette Ave South, police said.
The warrant was related to a homicide investigation out of St. Paul, Minnesota, according to police.
“Mr. Locke was not named in the original search warrant and so at this point it is unclear if or how he is connected to St. Paul’s investigation,” Minneapolis Police Department Interim Chief Amelia Huffman said in a news conference Thursday.
The shooting has once again cast a harsh spotlight upon the Minneapolis Police Department, already accused of use of excessive force in the 2020 death of George Floyd. It has also reignited questions over the use of no-knock warrants, as Kentucky woman Breonna Taylor was fatally shot during such a warrant in Louisville in 2020.
The footage of the incident was released Thursday after family members of the descendant reviewed the footage, Huffman said.
The footage is graphic and police blurred the faces of the officers involved.
The 54-second clip begins with SWAT team members opening the door to a unit on the seventh floor of the apartment building with a key.
They announce their presence as they enter the door, not beforehand, contrary to what the police news release on the incident said claiming officers, “loudly and repeatedly announced their presence” before crossing the threshold of the apartment.
When a reporter challenged Huffman on the timing of the officers declaring their presence, she urged the public to watch the video and “make their own assessment.”
Seconds after entering the apartment, officers see a figure on a couch covered in a blanket that starts to rise. As the figure rises, the barrel of a gun comes into view.
The news release of the incident describes the handgun as “pointed in the direction of the officer.” However, in the footage it’s not clear if the gun was pointing at an officer.
That’s when a SWAT team officer had to make a “split second decision” of whether there was an imminent threat of harm, Huffman said.
One officer was heard saying, “Show me your hands!” It’s not clear if Locke was ordered to drop the gun before he was shot.
Three shots were fired in the footage and Locke appears to fall onto the ground.
Emergency aid was provided to Locke and he was carried to the lobby to meet paramedics. He was transported to the Hennepin County medical center where he died, police said in the news release.
The gun was recovered from the scene.
The entire incident unfolded in less than 10 seconds.
The heated press conference was interrupted by Black activist and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong, who took to the stage to confront Mayor Jacob Frey and Huffman for the lack of change in the city’s policing.
“I don’t know how you guys slept last night,” Armstrong said. “Don’t cover up for what those cops did.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension responded to the shooting scene and is conducting an independent investigation. The Minneapolis Police Department will also conduct an assessment of policy and procedure violations separate from the internal administrative probe, Huffman said.
On Friday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced he will work with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in reviewing Locke’s death. Together they will work with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and decide whether criminal charges should be brought.
The officer who shot Locke was identified Thursday as Mark Hanneman, who joined the department in 2015.
Hanneman had been the subject of three complaints since his hiring but all were closed without discipline, according to his personnel records released by the city.
Hanneman is on paid administrative leave “in accordance with department policy,” police public information officer Garrett Parten said.
NBC News’ efforts to reach Hanneman Friday morning were unsuccessful.
Locke’s family has retained Ben Crump and Jeff Storms.
Crump said in a statement that Locke has no past criminal history and legally possessed a firearm at the time of his death. He compared Locke’s killing to the botched raid that killed Breonna Taylor.
“Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans,” Crump said. “This is yet another example of why we need to put an end to these kinds of search warrants so that one day, Black Americans will be able to sleep safely in their beds at night.”
In a press conference Friday, Locke’s father Andre Locke called Amir a “good kid” and “entrepreneur.”
“Amir enjoyed learning and asking questions. He enjoyed wanting to be a part of the music industry. He wanted to change lives. He wanted to help the youth,” his father said, noting they come from a law enforcement family.
Andre said his son was startled when the officers approached and kicked the couch he was sleeping on.
“He never got to know or see who killed him,” Andre said. “He never got a chance to remove the cover from his head.”
“Amir did what any reasonable law abiding citizen would do to protect himself … We want justice for our son Amir,” Andre added.
Amir’s mother Karen Wells said “a mother should never have to see her child executed in that manner.”
“I always referred to him as my baby boy,” she said. “He was raised with morals and values. He respected law enforcement.”
His parents said Amir had plans to move to Dallas, where his mom lives, in a week to pursue his music career.
Minneapolis has been the center of police reform debate in wake of Floyd’s death.
Currently, its police department is under investigation by the Justice Department to see if it engages in a pattern or practice of policing that violates the Constitution or federal civil rights laws.
In November 2020, Minneapolis Mayor Frey unveiled a new policy for no-knock warrants, requiring officers to announce their presence and purpose before entering and mandate they periodically announce themselves through the search.