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Search Warrants That Led To Amir Locke's Killing Released

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -  In a search warrant released by a judge's order Thursday, police argued a no-knock warrant was necessary in the raid that led to Amir Locke's killing because it would "not only increase officer safety, but it will also decrease the risk for injuries to the suspects and other residents nearby."

The warrant authorized a Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team to raid an apartment at the Bolero Flats building in downtown Minneapolis Feb. 2. Less than 10 seconds after police entered the apartment, officer Mark Hanneman fatally shot Locke, a 22-year-old Black man who was not named in the warrants.

The warrants were previously unsealed but needed a judge's order for release because they concerned a minor suspect -- 17-year-old Mekhi Speed.

Speed faces second-degree murder charges in the shooting of Otis Elder in St. Paul last month. Charging documents indicate Speed was Locke's cousin, and Speed's brother lives in the apartment where Locke was sleeping when Minneapolis police conducted a no-knock raid and fatally shot him.

Within the warrant, police argued for no-knock entry and a nighttime search, meaning outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In justifying these exceptions, the requesting officer wrote, "A criminal history review of the known suspects in this homicide revealed that they have a history of violent crimes."

"A no-knock warrant enables officers to execute the warrant more safely by allowing officers to make entry into the apartment without alerting the suspects inside," the requesting officer wrote. "This will not only increase officer safety, but it will also decrease the risk for injuries to the suspects and other residents nearby."

The requesting officer wrote the same thing about a nighttime search.

Though the requesting and reviewing officers named on the warrant are members of the St. Paul Police Department, sources tell WCCO-TV that St. Paul police did not originally ask for a no-knock warrant, and the department has not conducted a no-knock since 2016. But since Minneapolis police would be executing the warrant, St. Paul police agreed to go with Minneapolis' preference for a warrant in this case.

Judge Peter Cahill signed off on the warrants, writing: "The court further finds that no-knock entry, without announcement of authority or purpose is necessary to prevent the loss, destruction, or removal of the objects of said search or to protect the safety of the searchers or the public."

The warrants authorized searches of three apartments in the Bolero flats in downtown Minneapolis. Police said they were looking for blood and forensic evidence, firearms and ammunition, electronic devices, marijuana, identifying documents, currency, fire extinguishers and keys to a Mercedes.

A Mercedes was a suspect vehicle in Elder's killing and at least 10 other criminal incidents, the warrants state.

The warrant for the apartment in which police killed Locke notes the following items were recovered: Locke's wallet, two jackets, multiple phones and computers, a 9 mm bullet and marijuana.

According to Speed's charging documents, police raided the apartment Speed lived in with his mother, Speed's friend's apartment, and Speed's brother's girlfriend's apartment - the one Locke was sleeping in. Speed was not present at any of the apartments that day, but was arrested on Monday in Winona.

Body camera video released last week show officers yelling "police" and "search warrant" as they cross the threshold into Speed's brother's apartment. Locke, who was sleeping on the couch and wrapped in a blanket, sat up with a gun in hand and was shot three times by officer Mark Hanneman.

Locke had a license to carry and family said he had gotten his gun to protect himself while he was driving for Doordash.

Locke died shortly after 7 a.m. on Feb. 2, roughly 13 minutes after he was shot.

In response to Locke's death, Mayor Jacob Frey imposed a moratorium on the request and execution of no-knock warrants in Minneapolis, a policy which names exceptions for situations involving imminent threat and danger to the public.

Frey ran for re-election in November while touting a "ban" to the no-knock policy, which University of St. Thomas professor Rachel Moran said "did not affect the knock requirement at all." Frey has since taken the hot seat for being misleading on the changes he made in the fall of 2020, following the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in a botched no-knock raid in Kentucky.

"Language became more casual, including my own, which did not reflect the necessary precision or nuance. An I own that," he said on Monday.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued a series of tweets in response to the release of the search warrants, pointing out that the City of St. Paul had not performed a no-knock entry on a warrant since 2016:

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is reviewing Locke's killing, and will work with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to review the shooting for potential charges.

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