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Minneapolis city council to review no-knock warrants after Amir Locke shooting

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(MINNEAPOLIS) — A Minneapolis city council committee will hold a hearing on no-knock warrants Monday afternoon following the death of Amir Locke, who was fatally shot in an apartment by Minneapolis police officers last Wednesday during the execution of a no-knock warrant.

Activists and Locke family attorneys will likely be in attendance to discuss banning these type of warrants.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey issued a moratorium on no-knock warrants late Friday in response to the fatal incident.

“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. “To ensure safety of both the public and officers until a new policy is crafted, I’m issuing a moratorium on both the request and execution of such warrants in Minneapolis.”

However, officials may execute a no-knock warrant under the moratorium if it is determined that there is an imminent threat of harm to an individual or the public. The chief must approve the warrant in those cases, according to the mayor.

Frey will talk with the experts who helped shape Breonna’s Law to review and suggest revisions to the department’s policy. The law, issued in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2020, banned no-knock warrants following the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Minneapolis Police Department updated its policy in November 2020, limiting no-knock warrants to “exigent” cases.

Minneapolis police officers are required to announce their presence and purpose before entering a home, except for when announcing the officers’ presence would create an imminent threat.

In those cases, a supervisor can authorize officers to enter without announcing their presence. Supervisors are required to provide evidence to support that decision before it is signed and approved by the judge.

“This is about proactive policymaking and instilling accountability,” Frey said in a statement announcing the new policy. “We can’t prevent every tragedy, but we can limit the likelihood of bad outcomes. This new, no-knock warrant policy will set shared expectations for our community and clear and objective standards within the department.”

In a Friday press conference regarding Locke’s death, acting Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman said that “both a no-knock and a knock search warrant were obtained … so that the SWAT team could assess the circumstances and make the best possible decision” in the Locke case.

Body camera footage released Thursday shows officers executing a no-knock search warrant before coming across 22-year-old Locke, who had been sleeping under a blanket on the couch in the apartment that the warrant was issued for.

He is seen holding a gun as he begins to sit up, still covered with the blanket before he is shot less than 10 seconds after officers entered the room.

Huffman said that when officers saw the gun, “That’s the moment when the officer had to make a split second decision to assess the circumstances and determine whether he felt like there was an articulable threat.”

Locke was not named in the no-knock warrant, according to family attorney Ben Crump said at the press conference. The warrant was being executed on behalf of St. Paul police, who were searching for a homicide suspect.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has ruled Locke’s death a homicide.

The officer who shot and killed Locke was identified by police as Mark Hanneman. In accordance with policy, he’s been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident. It is unclear if Hanneman has legal representation.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will work with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to review Locke’s death, the office said in a press release Friday.

Locke’s killing prompted protests demanding justice in his killing. Hundreds of demonstrators chanted, “Who’s down with the revolution? We’re down with the revolution!” and “No justice, no peace,” while marching toward the police precinct on Saturday.

A caravan of cars also pulled up to what ABC affiliate KSTP-TV reported could be Huffman’s home. Protesters got out of their cars in front of the home, chanting and banging drums.

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