The Minneapolis Police Department was trying to control the narrative surrounding the shooting death of a young Black man this week during the botched execution of a no-knock warrant for which he was not the subject.
It took just about 10 seconds in total for what seemed like dozens of officers to rush into an apartment where Amir Locke appeared to be sleeping on a sofa and shoot him three times on Wednesday morning. Because the shooting reportedly unfolded so quickly, the Minneapolis Police Department released an edited version of the bodycam footage that was only played in slow motion.
Even with the speed altered, the 55-second video strongly suggests that Locke — who was shown gripping a legally owned gun for which he is licensed and allowed to use in self-defense — likely had no clue what was happening as cops stormed the apartment. The 22-year-old was shown wrapped in a blanket that was over his head while lying down on a sofa in a position that suggested he was sleeping when police entered the apartment. The video showed him scrambling to move the blanket from over from his face when he was shot twice in the chest and once in the wrist.
The Minneapolis Police Department insisted in a press release that the officers involved “loudly and repeatedly announced their presence,” but the bodycam video had already been altered to distort voices that rendered unintelligible sounds. The press release also said officers “immediately provided emergency aid,” but that part was not included in the video footage the cops released.
The press release makes no reference to the person who the search warrant authorized them to look for. However, it does refer to Locke as a “suspect” on four separate occasions.
These points were raised during a press conference on Thursday conducted by interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman and Mayor Jacob Frey when civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong confronted them both and demanded transparency in no uncertain terms.
“I can’t tolerate the whitewashing,” Armstrong, co-chair of the Minneapolis public Safety Commission, told Huffman and Frey directly before adding, “you guys aren’t gonna waste my goddamned time.”
Huffman, who ultimately confirmed Locke was not a suspect, and Frey ended up abruptly leaving the press conference as questions were still being asked.
Minnesota State Senator Omar Fateh characterized the shooting as a “break-in and murder.”
The police officer who killed Locke was identified as Mark Hanneman, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has been retained to represent Locke’s family.
“All available information reflects that Locke was not the subject of that warrant,” a press release from Crump’s office said in part before adding that Locke “has several family members in law enforcement and no past criminal history, legally possessed a firearm at the time of his death.”
Crump compared Locke’s killing to Breonna Taylor‘s death.
“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,” Crump said. “We will continue pushing for answers in this case so that Amir’s grieving family can get the closure they deserve.”
Locke’s family has scheduled a press conference for Friday morning.
The edited bodycam footage released by the Minneapolis Police Department follows below.
To be sure, no-knock warrants have a very real history of going wrong. They often times allow law enforcement to legally raid private property without warning disproportionately target Black, brown and poor people, resulting in civil rights lawsuits and in some cases prompting police departments to abandon the controversial practice. No-knock warrants are also rooted in the war on drugs, an ineffective pretense based on racial profiling.
This is America.