Amir Locke, 22, was fatally shot by Minneapolis police on Feb. 2 as they conducted an early morning no-knock warrant at a relative’s apartment in which he was sleeping.
When the police entered the home, Locke, a licensed gun holder, held a gun as he unfolded a blanket under which he was asleep. Locke was not the subject of the warrant.
It took nine seconds from the time the police entered the apartment for Locke to be shot.
The incident is reminiscent of the fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment on March 13, 2020. Taylor, too, was mistakenly shot when police executed a no-knock warrant.
Unarmed Black man George Floyd also died at the hands of white Minneapolis police in May 2020, setting off worldwide protests against police brutality.
Locke’s parents, Andre Locke and Karen Wells, said Amir most likely reached for a legal firearm to protect himself after being woken up in confusion by police.
Police released body camera video in slow motion and at regular speed. The video, time-stamped at about 6:48 am EST, showed an officer using a key to unlock the door and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniform and protective vests. Police repeatedly shouted, “Police, search warrant!” They also shouted “Hands!” and “Get on the ground!” One officer kicked a sectional sofa. Locke, who was wrapped in a blanket on the sofa, began to move, holding a pistol. Three shots are heard before the video ends.
“My son was executed on 2-2 of 22,” said Wells, referring to the date the fatal shooting occurred, February 2, 2022. “And now his dreams have been destroyed.” Locke’s parents said he was a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and had a permit to carry a gun.
Locke’s parents spoke at a news conference organized by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who said the family was “just flabbergasted at the fact that Amir was killed in this way.”
“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.
“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,” said Wells, Locke’s mother. “We are going to make sure that we speak loudly for Amir.”
Locke’s death sparked outrage on Twitter.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is Black, tweeted, “Amir Locke’s life mattered. He was only 22 years old and had his whole life ahead of him. His family and friends must now live the rest of their lives without him.”
“Amir Locke was not named in any search warrant. The police HAD A KEY TO HIS APARTMENT, entered his home via a no-nock, screaming ‘police search warrant. Amir was asleep. Second’s after he was awakened …Amir was dead. The police killed him in yet ANOTHER act of police terrorism,” tweeted L E F T, PhD (@LeftSentThis).
“Not trying to hear about Kanye, his new purse, his new album or whatever is being promoted to number one on Twitter. Minneapolis police killed a black man while wrapped up in a blanket sleeping on a couch. Say HIS NAME Amir Locke,” tweeted podcast host Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) of “The Benjamin Dixon Show.”
Congresswoman Cori Bush said the government has been slow to act on the issue of no-knock warrants.
“2020: Breonna Taylor was murdered by police during a no-knock warrant. 2022: Amir Locke was murdered by police during a no-knock warrant. In the two years in between? The Senate didn’t even bring the bill to ban no-knock warrants to a vote. The whole system is guilty,” she tweeted.
“As #BreonnaTaylor showed us, no-knock warrants have deadly consequences for innocent law-abiding Black people! @MinneapolisPD executed a no-knock warrant yesterday at 6:48am, killing Amir Locke while he was wrapped in a blanket on the couch. Now we demand #JusticeForAmirLocke!!” tweeted civil rights attorney Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump).
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The search warrant has not yet been made public that led the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team to enter the apartment where Locke was sleeping.
Two days after Locke’s shooting on Feb. 4, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced he would temporarily ban police from seeking and executing no-knock warrants. Prior to this, policy allowed “unannounced entry” on high-risk warrants, which would “authorize officers to enter … without first knocking and announcing their presence or purpose.” A judge will rule if there will be a permanent ban.
There have been rallies since Locke’s death in protest against his shooting. On Feb. 5, more than 1,000 people gathered in Minneapolis with Locke’s parents in attendance.
Locke’s father spoke at the rally, saying: “I wanted to make sure that my son didn’t do what they say my son did, that he was accused of doing. My son did the right thing, as any law-abiding citizen that was sleeping in his own home, resting peacefully, after a hard day of work, as a non-convicted felon. He didn’t have a criminal history. He didn’t do anything.”
Although Locke was licensed to carry a gun, his parents said they worried about interactions with police.
“He made sure that he did his research; everything was going to be legal,” his mother told CNN’s Don Lemon, adding that her son learned how to use the gun and obtained a permit.
The parents said they had conversations with Amir and his older brother — conversations that were often about how to interact with police so they could “live to see another day.”
“Because they’ve been watching all their lives about what has been unfolding throughout this nation, on our Black males,” she said.
Photo: People march at a rally for Amir Locke on Feb.5, 2022, in Minneapolis. Hundreds of people filled the streets of downtown Minneapolis after body cam footage released by the Minneapolis Police Department showed an officer shoot and kill Locke during a no-knock warrant. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)