‘My son Amir was a law-abiding citizen’: Family of Amir Locke speaks out at press conference
Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images
(MINNEAPOLIS) — The parents of Amir Locke spoke out at a press conference Friday alongside civil rights attorneys Ben Crump, Jeff Storms and Antonio Romanucci following the killing of the 22-year-old earlier this week.
Locke was fatally shot by Minneapolis police officers in an apartment early Wednesday morning. Body camera footage released on Thursday shows officers executing a “no-knock” search warrant before coming across Locke, who had been sleeping under a blanket on the couch. 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.
Locke was not named in the “no-knock” warrant, 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.
“My son Amir was a law-abiding citizen who did not have a criminal history,” his father, Andre Locke, said at the press conference. “My son Amir was loved by many of us, by our family and many people, everyone that he came in touch with. My son Amir did what was right. He did all the things that he was supposed to do.”
Locke’s parents became emotional discussing their son’s killing, saying that he was a good kid working in the music industry and an entrepreneur who wanted to help the youth.
His mother, Karen Wells, said she struggled to watch the body camera footage.
“I could not watch it,” she said. “But when I finally was able to see parts of that video when they released it yesterday — a mother should never have to see her child executed in that type of manner.”
The officer who shot and killed Locke was identified by police as Mark Hanneman. In accordance with policy, he’s been place on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident.
Crump, who is representing the Locke family with Storms and Romanucci, said that he was “shocked,” as he reflected on Locke’s death. According to MinnPost, Minneapolis announced that it had changed its policy on “no-knock” search warrants and restricted their use after Breonna Taylor was killed in a similar situation in 2020. Minneapolis was one of several cities to make the change.
Minneapolis police still use “no-knock” search warrants in limited cases. Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman said at a Thursday press conference 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.”
“If we learned anything from Breonna Taylor, it is that ‘no-knock’ warrants have deadly consequences for innocent, law-abiding Black citizens,” Crump said.
“We have a city that just refuses to learn,” Storms added, referring to George Floyd’s 2020 murder in Minneapolis and David Smith’s 10 years earlier.
Romanucci said that Locke was “doomed to die,” because of the way that the police department carried out the raid.
“Had they announced who they were and why they were there, this tragedy could have been averted,” he said at the press conference. “But because they executed in the manner in which they did, Amir was doomed to die.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey issued a moratorium on “no knock” warrants late Friday.
“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.”
Locke’s family said at the press conference that he had a license to carry the gun in his possession on Wednesday, though this has not been confirmed by ABC News. His father also said he was mentored by relatives who had a background in law enforcement.
The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus issued a statement on Friday addressing the shooting, saying that it was “completely avoidable.”
“Black men, like all citizens, have a 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. The organization called for an independent investigation into the circumstances around Locke’s death.
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 parents are committed to getting justice for their son.
“As his mother, I will make sure that as long as I’m on this side of this world, I’m going to fight every day, throughout the day, 365 days, to make sure that Amir Rahkare Locke gets justice for being executed by the MPD,” Wells said.
“We know that we are not going to let them sweep Amir’s death under the rug, as they attempted to initially. His family, led by his mother and father, are gonna fight to say that Amir Locke’s life matters,” Crump added.
The Minneapolis Police Department declined to provide comment.
ABC News’ Miles Cohen and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report
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