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

An officer shot Locke within seconds of entering the apartment after prosecutors said Locke came out of a couch with a gun and pointed it at an officer. The officer and other members of the Minneapolis SWAT team were serving an arrest warrant in a homicide investigation.

“After a thorough review of all available evidence … there is insufficient admissible evidence to pursue 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 legal possession of the firearm, inside the apartment, prosecutors said, but they said that was not relevant to the investigation. According to the prosecutors’ statement, Locke’s actions after officers entered the apartment “with a judicially authorized search warrant” constituted a “specifically articulated threat.”

“These circumstances are such that an objectively reasonable officer in Officer (Mark) Hanneman’s position would have perceived an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm as being reasonably likely to occur, and an objectively reasonable officer would not delay in using force. lethal”. according to the statement by Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman.

Jeff Storms, a lawyer for the Locke family, said it was a “disappointing day for the family.”

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

Locke’s mother said he worked as a food delivery person and had the gun to protect himself. She said that her son was cremated because she did not want her son’s remains to remain in Minneapolis.

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

The shooting drew national attention, in part, because of Minneapolis’ status as the epicenter of the country’s most recent police reform movement, sparked by an officer from the same department who killed George Floyd by kneeling on him during an arrest in 2020. of that encounter went viral and sparked protests across the United States, sometimes violent and often with property destruction, and reignited a debate about the role of the police in American society.
City officials didn’t release much information in the days after Locke was shot by an officer, other than 14 seconds of video they said showed Locke with the gun. Locke was not named in the order; Locke’s cousin was.

The video they released showed an officer quietly sliding a key into the door of the apartment. After the door opens, a group of officers enter, shouting orders. After the officers entered the apartment, Locke looked over the back of the couch, crouched under a blanket, lowered a pistol, then raised it toward the officer, who then shot him three times, according to the statement from prosecutors. They announced their decision.

During a news conference Wednesday, Ellison and Freeman said they met with Locke’s family in the morning to inform them of their decision.

“We express our personal condolences and empathy for the family,” Freeman said. “They, like us, are very frustrated with the arrest warrants.”

Hanneman, the officer who shot Locke, was wearing a body camera and provided a written statement to investigators.

“I felt at the time that if I didn’t use deadly force myself, I would probably be killed,” he wrote. “I didn’t have a chance to reposition or withdraw. There was no way to de-escalate this situation. The threat to my life and the lives of my teammates was imminent and terrifying.”

Some renewed calls to end the practice of warrants following Locke’s death, and many in leadership positions in surveillance departments and advocacy groups have said there are almost no circumstances in which warrants are appropriate.

Ellison noted that his office was not allowed to assess the case “from the victim’s perspective” 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 that Locke could be alive today “in the absence of the arrest warrant used in this case.” But they also said that their role in this investigation was not to assess the use of the warrant, but rather to analyze 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 the American consciousness. Ellison said Locke’s murder “requires reform, and I think it’s appropriate that the community commit to having a policy that preserves the lives of everyone involved.”

“I will add this, automatic warrants are also not particularly safe for officers. They have attendant 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 drew significant national media attention in November 2020 when it announced, amid a nationwide reckoning over police policies sparked in part by the killing of Floyd and the killing of Taylor, that it was changing its policy. . Some touted it as an “accomplishment” that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey banned warrants. But the city did not ban warrants outright, and like most police department policies, its policy gives field supervisors wide leeway to make decisions based on conditions they find and allows warrants in certain situations.
A policy announced after Locke’s death required the city’s chief of police to approve warrant service. But Tuesday night, Frey’s office said a new policy would bar officers from executing warrants in most cases. The policy will prohibit the MPD from requesting walk-in search warrants and responding to similar search requests from other jurisdictions, according to a Tuesday statement from Frey’s office.

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

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