MINEOPOLIS – The Minnesota prosecutor’s office on Wednesday refused to charge a Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Amir Locke while carrying out an early morning search warrant for a downtown apartment in February.

The 22-year-old Locke, who was Black, was sitting on a couch in the apartment when authorities entered her on February 2 without knocking as part of an investigation into a murder in nearby St. Paul’s.

His parents said that from what they saw on the recording from the police camera, it turned out that their son woke up. His mother Karen Wells called his death a “shooting.” Their lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Locke, whose name was not named in the warrant, was shot dead seconds after authorities said he aimed his gun at officers. Locke’s family doubted that. Footage from the camera shows Locke holding a gun before he was shot.

Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, whose offices were considering the case, said they determined Officer Mark Hahnemann was acquitted when he fired from his weapon.

“There is insufficient admissible evidence to prosecute in this case. In particular, the state could not beyond a reasonable doubt refute any of the elements of the Minnesota statute on the use of deadly force that allows the use of force by Hahnemann officers,” Allison said. Freeman in a joint statement.

Locke’s death came at a time when three former Minneapolis police officers were on trial in St. Paul’s Federal Court in the case of the murder of George Floyd. This sparked protests and the revision of search warrants without knocking. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has announced an immediate moratorium on such warrants, and on Tuesday he drafted a new policy that will take effect on Friday, requiring officers to knock and wait before entering the residence. Some lawmakers also insist on a state ban on unreasonable warrants, except in rare circumstances.

“Amir Locke is a victim,” Allison and Freeman said. “This tragedy may not have happened without the banning ban used in the case.

In their applications for search warrants in apartments in Minneapolis and elsewhere, authorities said the indistinct strike warrant was needed to protect the public and officers when they searched for weapons, drugs and clothing worn by people suspected of violent murder. Authorities asked to allow the officers to conduct a search without knocking and not at 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., because the suspects wanted in the January 10 murder of Otis Elder had a history of violence.

Locke was killed seconds after a group of riot police entered the apartment, where, according to his family, he stopped. The video from the camera shows an officer using a key to unlock the door and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniform and protective vests with a time stamp around 6:48 p.m. When they enter, they shout several times, “Police, search warrant!” They also shout “Hands!” And “On the ground!”

The video shows an officer kicking a sectional couch, and Locke is seen wrapped in a blanket and holding a gun. Three shots are heard and the video ends.

Allison and Freeman said the case shows that warrants are “very risky” and can pose a “significant danger” to people who are not involved in criminal activity.

“Local, state and federal politicians must seriously weigh the benefits of dangerous warrants that are dangerous to both law enforcement and the public. Other cities, such as St. Paul and some states, have stopped using the incomplete requirements,” they said. .

While Locke’s name was not named in the warrant, his 17-year-old cousin Mehi Camden Speed ​​was named, and she was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in Elder’s murder.

The search warrant was issued as part of an investigation into the Elder’s death. The eldest, a 38-year-old father, was found shot and lying on the street as a result of what police said was a robbery. Drugs and money were found in Elder’s SUV, court documents show.

The police department hired Hahnemann in 2015. City documents show that three complaints were filed against him and that all were closed without disciplinary action, but details are not given. Data on the United Communities Against Police Violence website shows that the fourth complaint in 2018 remains open. No details were reported.


Associated Press writer Amy Forlith has contributed.

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