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AG Keith Ellison, Hennepin Co. Attorney's Office To Review Amir Locke Shooting

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will work with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to review the police shooting of Amir Locke.

Locke, 22, was fatally shot by Officer Mark Hanneman on Wednesday morning in downtown Minneapolis as police executed search warrants connected to a murder in St. Paul.

Amir Locke
Amir Locke (credit: Racial Justice Network)

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced a partnership with Ellison Friday morning. Ellison previously led teams which successfully prosecuted Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter, police officers convicted of killing George Floyd and Daunte Wright respectively.

Together, the offices will decide whether criminal charges should be brought forward.

Body camera footage released begins with a police officer turning the key to open the door to the apartment, and several officers say "police" and "search warrant" as they cross the threshold. The officers approach Locke, on the couch and wrapped in a blanket. He sits up and is holding a gun.

An instant later, Hanneman fires three shots, and Locke falls to the floor. Locke is shot roughly 10 seconds after officers open the apartment door.

Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said Locke was not named in the original search warrant, and said it is "unclear" if he is connected to the St. Paul homicide investigation. She said both a knock and a no-knock warrant were obtained so the SWAT team could make its best assessment.

Last year, the Minnesota legislature added new requirements for a no-knock warrant application, including "why peace officers are seeking the use of a no-knock entry and are unable to detain the suspect or search the residence through the use of a knock and announce warrant."

The application must also include "what investigative activities" have already taken place to support the issue of the no-knock warrant.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has since imposed a moratorium on requests and execution of no-knock warrants. There are exceptions if there is imminent harm to an individual or public, but the chief of police must approve it.

During Thursday evening's press conference, press and community groups started to confront Huffman on the perceived disconnect between her statement the day before and what is see in the body camera video. Huffman originally said SWAT team members "loudly and repeatedly" announced their entry into the apartment. Civil rights lawyer and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong confronted Huffman and Mayor Jacob Frey, saying she expected leadership, not a "cover-up."

Levy Armstrong's organization Racial Justice Network has since called for Frey to terminate Hanneman and end the use of no-knock warrants by Minneapolis police officers.

The Minneapolis Police Officers Federation says policing with a SWAT team is a "dangerous, high-stress profession where officers are forced to make important split-second decisions in defense of themselves." In the statement, the federation says Hanneman's decision to use deadly force "was not taken lightly," and no officer goes into a situation "wanting to use a weapon."

Locke's relatives say he was licensed to carry a weapon. He has no criminal history in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus called for a transparent and independent investigation into Locke's death, saying that "Amir Locke, a lawful gun owner, should still be alive."

"Black men, like all citizens, have the right to keep and bear arms. Black men, like all citizens, have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure," said Chair Bryan Strawser.

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