A Minneapolis police officer who killed a 22-year-old armed black man during a no-knock warrant raid will not be criminally charged in the shooting, prosecutors said Wednesday.
The fatal shooting of Amir Locke by Officer Mark Hanneman during an early morning raid at his apartment on Feb. 2 was deemed justified after bodycam footage showed Locke pointed a gun at the officer, according to Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman.
Locke, who was staying at his cousin’s apartment, was sleeping on a couch at the time and stood up while holding a firearm. He was not the subject of the search warrant, prosecutors said.
“It would be unethical for us to file charges in a case in which we know that we will not able to prevail because the law does not support the charges,” Ellison told reporters.
Hanneman, who shot Locke in the face, shoulder and chest, told investigators he “feared” for his life and that of other SWAT team officers, the Star Tribune reported, citing a joint report released by the prosecutors.
Ellison said Locke should not have been labeled as a suspect as Minneapolis police initially characterized him in a news release, but added he appeared to point the gun in Hanneman’s direction.
“Officer Hanneman perceived that Mr. Locke’s movements and production of a firearm presented a threat of death or great bodily harm that was reasonably likely to occur, and to which the officers had to respond without delay,” Ellison said.
Locke’s death occurred as three former Minneapolis police officers stood trial in federal court in nearby St. Paul in George Floyd’s May 2020 slaying. The fatal shooting also led to protests and calls for an end to no-knock search warrants being used in Minneapolis and other cities throughout Minnesota.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey banned no-knock search warrants after Locke’s death. He also formalized a new policy Tuesday to take effect Friday that requires cops to knock and wait before storming into a residence.
But in “exigent circumstances,” cops can still enter a location without waiting up to 30 seconds under the new policy, which some critics believe could be a loophole, the Star Tribune reported.
Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, said in February that the officers “executed” her son. She hired prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump after Amir’s death. Crump and attorney Jeff Storms had earlier won a $27 million settlement between the city of Minneapolis and Floyd’s family.
Locke’s family, meanwhile, is “deeply disappointed” by the decision not to criminally charge Hanneman, Crump, Storms and attorney Antonio Romanucci said in a statement to The Post.
“The family and its legal team are firmly committed to their continued fight for justice in the civil court system, in fiercely advocating for the passage of local and national legislation, and taking every other step necessary to ensure accountability for all those responsible for needlessly cutting Amir’s life far too short,” the attorneys said. “Today only deepens the resolve of Amir’s family and its legal team.”
With Post wires