Amir Locke, a 22-year-old African-American man from Minneapolis, was shot dead by a SWAT team on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, during a search investigation at the Bolero Flats apartment in Minneapolis.
The raid was reportedly related to a homicide case in St. Paul, but the shooting victim was not named on the official warrant. According to a police report obtained by The Daily Beast, officers allegedly “announced their presence” before entering the apartment to conduct their search around 6:48 AM:
"Officers gained entry to the target apartment on the seventh floor, loudly and repeatedly announced their presence, crossed the threshold of the apartment, and advanced with continued loud announcements of their presence."
The report also claimed that Locke was armed during the encounter and allegedly pointed a gun towards the authorities before he was shot by one of the officers during a “split-second” decision:
“An officer fired his duty weapon and the adult male suspect was struck. Officers immediately provided emergency aid and carried the suspect down to the lobby to meet paramedics.”
Amir Locke suffered two gunshot wounds to his chest and one to his wrist. He was then transported to Hennepin County Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival.
Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said that the SWAT team was granted both “a knock and no-knock warrant” to assess the situation. However, the incident prompted several activists to question the debatable no-knock warrant once again.
In response to the public outcry, the Minneapolis Police Department released bodycam footage from the scene of the incident. The clip left people further enraged as it contradicted the statement provided by the police report surrounding Locke’s shooting.
A look into the Amir Locke shooting bodycam video
On Thursday, February 3, 2022, the Minneapolis Police Department released body camera video documenting the shooting of Amir Locke. The footage, published both at slow and regular speeds, shows a SWAT team unlocking a door and entering a dark apartment without knocking.
Officers can also be heard saying terms like “police,” “search warrant,” “face forward,” “hands hands,” “get on the ground” before coming across Locke sleeping atop a couch tightly wrapped in a white blanket.
As Locke was seen emerging out of his blanket while holding a handgun, one armed officer could be seen firing three shots towards the former’s direction within 10 seconds of the confrontation. The video came to an end after the fatal shooting.
Police recovered a handgun loaded with 5.7mm live rounds from the scene of the incident. However, civil rights attorney and community activist Nekima Levy Armstrong mentioned that Locke's family informed that he had a licensed gun with a concealed-carry permit.
The family also mentioned that the victim did not live in the apartment and was present at the venue to meet his friends. They even clarified that Amir Locke did not have any criminal history in Minneapolis, and his name was not mentioned in the police warrant.
Chief Huffman later confirmed that Locke was not one of the three suspects named in the warrant and that it was “unclear” if he was related to the homicide investigation in St Paul.
The bodycam footage sparked major fury among citizens as they noticed Locke was only holding the gun towards the side of the couch and did not aim the weapon towards any person, contrary to the police statement that claimed he pointed the gun towards the officers’ direction.
The video also contradicted a statement that officers "loudly and repeatedly announced their presence" before entering the apartment. It instead showed that they unlocked the door and entered the house before mentioning their presence.
Many activists also argued that officers did not give Locke adequate time to process the situation. Instead, they decided to shoot him within a few seconds of the encounter before judging if the officers were exposed to a real threat.
The officer who fired the shot was later identified as Mark Hanneman. Chief Huffman mentioned that Hanneman made a “split-second decision” during the incident to protect himself and his colleagues due to fear of a “threat of great bodily harm or death.”
Huffman also shared that Hanneman’s decision would be examined by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Netizens reacts to Amir Locke’s tragic shooting
In the wake of Amir Locke’s tragic shooting, activists and community groups raised new questions about police behavior towards African-Americans in Minneapolis.
The city had previously witnessed the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin, which ultimately led to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Locke’s death also prompted people to remember the murder of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead during a no-knock warrant raid in Louisville.
Several social media users also took to Twitter to call out the Minneapolis Police Department for the killing of Amir Locke:
As reactions continue to pour in online, it remains to be seen how the Minneapolis Police Department will respond to the situation. Officer Mark Hanneman has reportedly been placed on administrative leave as per the city’s policy.
Meanwhile, Amir Locke’s family have demanded justice for their son. Activists have also asked lawmakers to charge Hanneman with murder.