What We Know About the Warrant Police Used to Enter Amir Locke’s Home

Following the police shooting of Amir Locke in Minneapolis, many have questioned what type of warrant was used by police to gain entry into the apartment where he was confronted by a SWAT team as he lay on a couch.

On Wednesday, 22-year-old Locke was fatally shot by Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Hanneman in the same city where George Floyd died at the hands of police. During a press conference on Thursday, Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman said that officers obtained both a no-knock and a knock warrant, “so the SWAT team could assess the circumstances and make the best possible decision.”

In a press release, the Minneapolis Police Department said that the department’s SWAT Team executed a “warrant for the Saint Paul Police Department Homicide unit on the 1100 block of Marquette Ave South.”

“Officers gained entry to the target apartment on the seventh floor, loudly and repeatedly announced their presence, crossed the threshold of the apartment, and advanced with continued loud announcements of their presence,” the press release said.

However, recently released body camera footage of the incident and statements made by civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong have differed from what police have said.

While the press release said that officers “repeatedly announced their presence,” the body camera footage begins by showing an officer using a key to unlock the door of the apartment Locke was in and opening the door, without knocking. Immediately after opening the door, police can be heard yelling “police, search warrant.” In the video, Locke can be seen lying on the couch holding a gun, which Huffman said led to police officers fatally shooting him.

Minneapolis Police
A Minneapolis Police Officer fatally shot Amir Locke on Wednesday after executing a no-knock search warrant. Above, a Minneapolis Police officer checks a suspicious car without a plate parked near the Hennepin County Government Center as the jury selection begins at the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 9, 2021.
Kerem Yucel/Getty

Armstrong told the Associated Press that she was informed by Locke’s family that he didn’t live in the apartment where the warrant was executed. She also noted that Locke was not named in the warrant, which Huffman confirmed during the press conference.

Huffman also said that the warrants used were for a homicide investigation, but she noted that Locke’s connection to the investigation is currently unclear. The warrants were initially obtained by the St. Paul Police Department.

No-knock warrants have faced intense scrutiny following the police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2020.

In a statement on Friday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Locke’s family, compared the incident to Taylor’s death and said “the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans.”

“This is yet another example of why we need to put an end to these kinds of search warrants so that one day, Black Americans will be able to sleep safely in their beds at night,” Crump, who also represented George Floyd’s family, added.

During a news conference on Friday, Crump made similar comments, saying, “if we learned anything from Breonna Taylor, it is that no-knock warrants have deadly consequences for innocent, law-abiding Black citizens. That’s what we know.”

Following the death of Taylor, the Minneapolis Police Department announced a new directive limiting the use of no-knock warrants. According to the Star Tribune, the directive required officers to announce themselves as police before entering a residence even if they have a court-approved no-knock warrant.

The Minneapolis Police Department declined to make any further comments after Newsweek reached out.

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