Amir Locke: No charges will be filed in fatal police shooting

An officer shot Locke seconds after entering the apartment after prosecutors said Locke got off a couch with a handgun and lifted it towards an officer. The officer and other members of the Minneapolis SWAT team were there to serve a warrant in a homicide investigation.

“After a thorough review of all available evidence … there is insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges in this case,” according to a statement from the county attorney and state attorney general released Wednesday.

At the time Locke was shot, he was in lawful possession of the gun, inside the apartment, prosecutors said, but they said it was not relevant to the investigation. According to the prosecutors’ statement, Locke’s actions after officers entered the apartment “on a court-authorized search warrant” constituted a “specifically articulated threat.”

“These circumstances are such that an objectively reasonable officer in the position of Officer (Mark) Hanneman would have perceived an immediate threat of death or grievous bodily harm which was reasonably likely to occur, and an objectively reasonable officer would not delay to use deadly force,” said Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County District Attorney Michael Freeman.

Jeff Storms, an attorney for Locke’s family, said it was a “disappointing day for the family.”

“They just have a very strong belief that the incredible wrong that happened to Amir is going to save other people’s lives,” Storms told CNN. “They’re not going to let the lack of criminal charges slow them down one bit.”

Locke’s mother said he worked as a food delivery driver and had the gun to protect himself. She said her son was cremated because she didn’t want her son’s remains left in Minneapolis.

“You thought I was going to bury my son in the ground of the place that murdered him? No, wherever I go, my baby is going. I don’t live in the Twin Cities. I have left the Twin Cities. I took my son with me when I left the Twin Cities,” Karen Wells said.

The Minneapolis Federation of Police Officers welcomed prosecutors’ decision, saying Hanneman was “facing a deadly threat and had to make a shared decision” to protect himself and others.

“MPD SWAT was executing a search warrant signed by a judge who authorized the use of a no-knock warrant,” the federation said in a statement. declaration Wednesday.

He added: “An officer’s use of lethal force is never taken lightly and weighs heavily on the officers involved. This incident was a tragedy for all involved and will have a lasting impact on many. lives.”

The shooting drew national attention, in part because of Minneapolis’ place as the epicenter of the nation’s latest police reform movement, sparked by an officer from the same department killing George Floyd while kneeling on top of him. during an arrest in 2020. Video of this encounter has gone viral and has led to protests across America, sometimes violent and often involving the destruction of property, and has reignited a debate about the role of the police in the American company.
City officials didn’t release much information in the days after an officer shot Locke, other than 14 seconds of video they said showed Locke with the gun. Locke was not named in the warrant; Locke’s cousin was.

The video they released showed an officer discreetly slipping a key into the apartment door. After the door opens, a group of officers enter, shouting orders. After officers entered the apartment, Locke looked over the back of the couch, slid under a blanket, lowered a handgun, then raised it towards the officer who then shoved it at him. shot it three times, according to the statement from prosecutors announcing their decision.

At a press conference Wednesday, Ellison and Freeman said they met with Locke’s family that morning to inform them of their decision.

“We expressed our personal sympathies and empathy to the family,” Freeman said. “They, like us, are very frustrated with the no-knock warrants.”

Hanneman, the officer who shot Locke, wore a body-worn camera and provided a written statement to investigators.

“I felt at that moment that if I didn’t use deadly force myself, I would probably be killed,” he wrote. “I had no opportunity to reposition or retreat. There was no way for me to defuse this situation. The threat to my life and that of my teammates was imminent and terrifying.”

Hanneman returned to active duty Feb. 28, less than a month after shooting Locke, a city spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday. “Officer Hanneman has been assigned to a role that is consistent with the needs of the department and his service to the City of Minneapolis. This assignment does not include SWAT,” according to the spokesperson.

Some renewed calls to end the practice of no-knock warrants after Locke’s death, and many senior positions in departments and police department advocacy groups said there was almost no no circumstances where no-knock warrants were appropriate.

Ellison noted that his office was not authorized to assess the case “from the perspective of the victim” and that it would have been “unethical” to press charges in a case that could not prevail, because the law does not support criminal charges.

Minneapolis mayor officially ends police execution of search warrants

In their statement, Freeman and Ellison said Locke could be alive today “absent the no-knock warrant used in this case.” But they also said their role in this investigation was not to assess the use of the warrant, but to review the murder to determine whether criminal charges were warranted.

Storms said the family still plans to move forward with a civil lawsuit and the lack of criminal charges has “no impact” on that plan.

The shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville during warrant service reintroduced the dangers of warrants into American consciousness. Ellison said Locke’s murder “calls for reform, and I think it’s appropriate for the community to commit to a policy that is going to preserve the lives of everyone involved.”

“I will add this, no-knock warrants are also not particularly safe for officers. They carry risks on both sides, civilians and officers, so it is appropriate to investigate and come up with a policy that works. “, Ellison told reporters. conference.

The city came to national media attention in November 2020 when it announced, amid a nationwide review of policing policies prompted in part by the killing of Floyd and the murder of Taylor, that it was changing its policy. Some have touted it as an “achievement” that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey banned no-knock warrants. But the city hasn’t outlawed no-knock warrants outright, and like most police department policies, its policy gives field supervisors wide latitude to make decisions based on conditions. they meet and authorize no-knock warrants in certain situations.
A policy announced after Locke’s death required the city’s police chief to approve no-knock warrant service. But on Tuesday night, Frey’s office said a new policy would bar officers from executing no-knock warrants in most cases. The policy will prohibit the MPD from seeking no-knock search warrants and responding to similar search requests from other jurisdictions, according to a statement released Tuesday by Frey’s office.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.

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