MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minneapolis mayor imposed a moratorium on no-knock warrants Friday, two days after a SWAT team entered a downtown apartment and killed Amir Locke, a Black man who his parents said was “executed” after he was startled from a deep sleep and reached for a legal firearm to protect himself.
Mayor Jacob Frey said the moratorium immediately stops warrants in which police do not announce themselves, and said he and police leadership will work with national experts to review and revise department policy on no-knock warrants.
“No matter what information comes to light, it won’t change the fact that Amir Locke’s life was cut short,” Frey said in a statement.
Locke’s parents, Andre Locke and Karen Wells, described him Friday as respectful, including to police, and said some of their relatives work in law enforcement. Wells said the couple coached their son on how to act and do “what they needed to do whenever they encountered police officers” because of the danger to “unarmed Black males.”
“My son was executed on 2/2 of 22,” Wells said. “And now his dreams have been destroyed.”
The parents spoke at a news conference organized by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who said Locke’s family was “just flabbergasted at the fact that Amir was killed in this way” and disgusted at how the Wednesday morning raid was conducted. They said he was law-abiding, with no criminal record, and had a permit to carry a gun.
“They didn’t even give him a chance,” Crump said, adding that it was shocking that Minneapolis police had not learned from the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in a botched raid at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2020, leading to calls for an end to no-knock warrants nationwide.
Police said Locke pointed a loaded gun “in the direction of officers.” An incident report said he had two wounds in the chest and one in the right wrist.
The killing prompted outrage in Minneapolis, where prominent activists confronted the mayor and interim police chief at a news conference Thursday. Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney, called the city’s release of information “the anatomy of a cover-up.”
Gov. Tim Walz called Locke’s death “a tragedy” and said it showed the need for further examination of no-knock warrants.
Frey's office said DeRay McKesson, a prominent activist, and Peter Kraska, a professor at the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, will work with the police department on possible changes to policy. Frey’s office said both men helped shape Breonna’s Law in Louisville and have spearheaded changes to unannounced entry policies nationwide.
His office said that under the moratorium, a no-knock warrant can only be used if there is an imminent threat of harm, and even then the warrant must be approved by the chief.
Body camera video released by police Thursday evening shows an officer using a key to unlock the door of a downtown apartment and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniform and protective vests, time-stamped at about 6:48 a.m.
After they open the door, they repeatedly shout, “Police, search warrant!” They also shout “Hands!” and “Get on the ground!” The video shows an officer kick a sectional sofa, and Locke, who was wrapped in a comforter on the sofa, begins to move, holding a pistol. Three shots are heard, and the video ends.
The city also released a still from the video showing Locke holding the gun, his trigger finger along the side of the barrel. Otherwise, all that can be seen of Locke is the top of his head.