MINNEAPOLIS --(AP) -- The Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will be joining the review of the fatal shooting death of a Black Minneapolis man. This was just after authorities released body camera footage showing SWAT officers entering an apartment and shooting the 22 year-old man. He was covered in a blanket with a gun in the hand.
Amir Locke, a man who was allegedly armed with a loaded gun, was shot and killed by police just before 7:15 a.m. Wednesday. According to police, Locke pointed a loaded firearm "in the direction" of officers. An incident report stated that he suffered two injuries in his chest and one in his right wrist.
Activists quickly denounced Locke's killing, noting that he wasn't named on a search warrant.
Nekima Levy, a prominent civil right attorney, said that "the mother in me is furious" and was sick to her stomach. She confronted the mayor of the city and interim chief police officer late Thursday night following the release of the video. "Amir was never able to survive the encounter with police."
Ben Crump, civil rights lawyer, stated that Locke's family was "just flattered that Amir was murdered in this manner" and was disgusted by the SWAT raid.
Crump stated, "They didn’t even give him an opportunity." He stated that it was shocking that Minneapolis police hadn't learned from Breonna Taylor's murder in Louisville, Kentucky.
Late Thursday's body camera video showed footage at both slow and regular speeds. The footage shows an officer unlocking the door with a key and entering. They are followed by at most four officers wearing uniforms and protective vests. At least one of them shouts "Police! Search warrant!" Later, Locke is seen moving on the sofa covered in blankets. The video ends after three shots.
A still of Locke holding the gun and his trigger finger on the barrel was also released by the city. The top of Locke is barely visible.
Mike Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, said Friday that Ellison was asked to review the case in order to consider possible charges. Ellison's office was responsible for the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis Police Officer in George Floyd's murder, and Kim Potter, a former Brooklyn Center Officer in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.
Levy Armstrong was appointed by Mayor Jacob Frey last year to serve as co-chair of a community safety group. She said Locke's family had told her Locke was licensed gun owner with concealed carry permits, that he didn’t live in the apartment and that police hadn’t been looking for him.
Gun-rights groups highlighted the timing of Locke's raid. They said that Locke was awakened by confusing commands from multiple officers, pointing guns and lights at him.
Amelia Huffman, Interim Chief of Police, stated that Locke was not named in warrants during a press conference following the release of the video. She stated that it was unclear how Locke is linked to the homicide investigation. This is under the control and supervision of St. Paul police. A spokesperson for the St. Paul Police Department stated that he couldn't comment on the matter because the homicide investigation was ongoing.
As of Friday morning, the search warrants that allowed SWAT to enter the apartment on Wednesday morning were not yet public. However, a search warrant was filed by state agents to investigate the shooting. The initial search warrants were "being executed for a suspect in homicide who was apparently located" at that building.
Frey stated that the video raises as many questions and answers as it answers. Frey also said that the city is pursuing answers in a transparent and fast manner through investigations, including one by the State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Huffman stated that Mark Hanneman was in a difficult situation.
The still image shows the gun in the subject's hand at the best time when the light was full on him. "That's when the officer had the opportunity to evaluate the situation and determine whether there was an articulable danger, that there was imminent harm, great bodily injury or death and that he needed immediate action to protect himself, his partners and the rest of the team," she stated.
Hanneman was first hired in 2015. The city released three complaints in records, which were all closed without any discipline but did not give details. The website of Citizens United Against Police Brutality revealed that there was a fourth complaint in 2018. We were not provided with any details.
Levy Armstrong and others protestors confronted Locke and the interim chief at the news conference. Levy Armstrong called the city’s information release "the anatomy of an cover-up." A third activist criticised the pair for a Wednesday news release that described Locke as a suspect.
Karen Locke Locke, Locke's mother declined to comment on Thursday to The Associated Press, referring any questions to Crump. The settlements that the civil rights lawyer has secured for several families who were killed by police include $27 million for George Floyd's family. Crump and his family were shown the video prior to it being released publicly. They planned a news conference for Friday.
Crump made a Thursday statement in which he compared Locke’s shooting to the botched raid that saw officers kill Breonna Taylor at her Louisville, Kentucky home in 2020. This led to calls for national change.
"Like Breonna Taylor's tragic death, Amir Locke's tragic murder shows that no-knock warrants can have deadly consequences for Black Americans," Crump said. Crump stated that this is another reason why we must end these types of search warrants in order for Black Americans to be able to rest safely at night.
Huffman stated that there were both knock-and-no-knock warrants for the city.
Levy Armstrong, along with other state legislators from Minneapolis, demanded that body camera footage be made publicly. They wrote to Frey and Huffman insisting that transparency and accountability in police actions is a key element to building trust between the police and the community.
Wednesday's release by the city included photos and reports from the scene.
Minneapolis leaders and law enforcement officers often withhold video from police dashboard cameras and body cameras for several weeks, or even months. They cite ongoing investigations as a reason.
However, not all of the time.
Dolal Idd was shot by an officer at a Minneapolis gas station in the south. The city released video that day showing that the man had fired first at officers. Police in suburban Brooklyn Center released video last April after shooting Daunte Wright. It showed that Officer Kim Potter had not intended to use her Taser, but accidentally pulled her gun. Potter was convicted in December of manslaughter.
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