The SWAT raid that killed Amir Locke in Minneapolis last week was not going to be executed as a ‘no-knock’ search warrant before dawn until the Minneapolis Police Department insisted, according to the Department of St. Paul Police.
Locke, 22, was shot and killed by police on February 2 after he was awakened by officers while sleeping on a sofa in an apartment owned by a relative’s girlfriend. He was not the target of an ongoing homicide investigation, according to a recently unsealed search warrant requested as part of a St. Paul Police Department homicide investigation.
St. Paul police initially requested a more typical “knock and announce” warrant in accordance with their policies, but that warrant, which was to be executed in conjunction with the Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team, was never executed. . Instead, a separate warrant including both night duty and a “no knock” was drafted. It was approved by Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill.
Minneapolis police tightened their policies on unexpected entries in November 2020, months after George Floyd was killed by officer Derek Chauvin, but they failed to ban them all together. The policy requires officers to announce themselves “before crossing the threshold of the front door of the residence or building” and to make announcements periodically throughout.
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The St. Paul Police Department has not used the riskier no-knock warrant since 2016, department spokesman Steve Linders said.
“The original search warrant is based on how we handle things,” Linders said. “And then we talked to our partners, the other agency and of course in that discussion they clarified their desires and then we readjusted.”
A Minneapolis police spokesperson and attorneys representing Locke’s family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Locke’s cousin, Mekhi Speed, lived in the same Minneapolis apartment building and was arrested and charged by prosecutors with two counts of murder in the fatal shooting of 38-year-old Otis Rodney Elder.
The suspects were trying to rob Elder when he was shot inside his vehicle, police say.
Elder’s partner Princess Evans, 27, said he was ‘targeted’ and his death was ‘swept under the rug’ amid the attention to Locke’s murder. Evans said Elder is a devoted father of four and recently started his own business.
“I’m angry with the justice system because it let everyone down,” she said. “There are two broken families right now.”
Speed, 17, is being held at the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center. The state asked the court for an order allowing it to prosecute the 17-year-old as an adult because “continuing the proceedings in juvenile court does not serve public safety.” Under Minnesota law, a child is presumed to be tried as an adult if they are 16 or older and the alleged crime would result in jail time or was a crime involving a firearm.
The search warrant, which was looking for property related to the homicide investigation, makes no mention of Locke. His family said he had no criminal record and legally possessed a firearm, which police say they pointed in their direction during the raid.
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The incident unfolded in less than 10 seconds, according to body camera footage released by the Minneapolis Police Department.
At 6:48 a.m., officers used a key to enter the apartment, shouting “police search warrant” as they walked through the door.
A mishmash of voices shouts different directions at Locke, who is spotted asleep and wrapped in a white duvet on the sofa. One officer kicks the sofa while others appear to shout words such as ‘hands’, ‘get down’ and ‘show me your hands’.
Locke’s head sticks out of a quilt, just like the barrel of a gun – and in a still frame you can see his finger against the barrel but on the trigger – before three shots fired by the Minneapolis police officer Mark Hanneman could not be heard.
Locke, who was struck twice in the chest and once in the wrist, later died in a hospital.
Hanneman was placed on paid administrative leave.
“It’s really tragic because I can’t find anything wrong with him (Locke) except that he woke up in the middle of the night and he has a gun,” the sergeant said. retired from the LAPD. Lou Salseda, defensive tactics coach. Locke, who may have thought there was a home invasion going on, “really didn’t do anything wrong.”
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“You’re going to wake up and your heart is going to be pounding through your shirt. Then you’re trying to think in your sleep,” Salseda said. “If you haven’t practiced, thought and planned, by the time you get to your reaction, then it’s over.”
Calls to ban the use of the no-knock warrant grew after Breonna Taylor was killed by police in a 2020 raid on her home in Louisville, Kentucky.
Following outrage over Locke’s death last week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey implemented a “moratorium” that limited the issuance and execution of no-knock warrants. Minnesota lawmakers have said they will also work to limit the use of statewide no-knock warrants to situations such as false imprisonment, kidnapping and human trafficking.
Tami Abdollah is a national correspondent for USA TODAY covering inequities in the criminal justice system. Send advice by direct message @latams or email tami(at)usatoday.com
Contact Breaking News reporter N’dea Yancey-Bragg at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @NdeaYanceyBragg