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'A bright light' | Amir Locke's family shares heartbreak; County, AG partner to review shooting

The Hennepin Co. Attorney's Office and Minnesota Attorney General's Office will work together to review Locke's shooting by Minneapolis police.

MINNEAPOLIS — Amir Locke's parents are vowing not to rest until there is justice for their son, who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police inside a downtown apartment on Wednesday morning.

Locke's family spoke to the media in a virtual news conference on Friday morning, shortly after it was announced that the Hennepin County Attorney's office will work with a legal team from the Minnesota Attorney General's office to review the fatal shooting of Amir Locke by a Minneapolis police officer.

A news release from Mike Freeman's office says he asked Attorney General Keith Ellison to join forces in the review, and the A.G. agreed. The joint effort follows what Freeman called "previous constructive partnerships" in the prosecutions of Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter, both convicted in incidents involving fatal use of force. 

"I promise the Locke family and all Minnesotans that we will work with the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to conduct a fair and thorough review of the BCA investigation and that we will be guided by the values of accountability and transparency," Ellison said later in a social media post. 

Freeman has asked retired Judge Daniel Mabley, currently acting as Chief Criminal Deputy in the County Attorney's Office, to lead the efforts from his side. 

RELATED: St. Paul police did not request a 'no-knock' warrant in MPD raid that led to Amir Locke's death

The combined team will work with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to "ensure a thorough and complete evaluation. Freeman's office says at that point, the team will decide together, based on evidence assembled and the law, whether criminal charges will be filed against the officer who fired the fatal shots."

The Minneapolis Police Department has identified the officer who shot Amir Locke as Mark Hanneman.

At their news conference Friday, Amir Locke's father called him as a "good kid" and a law-abiding citizen who he described as the protector of the family. 

"He did what was right, he did all the things he was supposed to do," said Andre Locke of his 22-year-old son. "He wanted to change lives, he wanted to help youth, that was his goal." 

"Amir was very respectful. He was raised with morals and values. He respected law enforcement," shared Amir's mother Karen Wells, who talked about his dreams of a career in music and working with young people. "Amir was loved by all, hated by none... he didn't deserve what happened to him." 

Family attorney Jeff Storms emphasized that Amir Locke's name was not on the warrant, and called Minneapolis "a city that refuses to learn," referencing what he called a promise to refrain from using no-knock warrants following the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

"This poor young man is awoken from a slumber and given no opportunity to survive, to live," Storms said. "They barge in before they ever identify themselves, and they give Amir no time to save his own life."

Co-attorney Tony Romanucci also asserted that the Minneapolis SWAT team errored in their execution, saying officers didn't announce themselves or the serving of a warrant until they were already over the threshold of the front door. Calling it "an absolutely disgusting violation of civil rights," Romanucci said there was just one way this interaction would end. 

"Amir was doomed to die, he had no chance," Romanucci insisted. 

Both Romanucci and Storms said there are different standards for Black and White people who are permitted to carry guns, and maintain this would not have happened to a person who was White. 

Later Friday afternoon, Locke’s parents held another press conference alongside several members of their family, as well as local activists.

Wells spoke again, saying, “I was always an advocate for the families that went through this, but never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be standing up here talking about the execution of my son by the Minneapolis Police Department. I should not have to be here.”

“At the end of the day, I believe that he was executed by the MPD and I want the police officer that murdered my son to be prosecuted and fired.”

Locke’s father, Andre Locke added, “Put yourselves in our shoes. “How does that feel to know that your son is sleeping comfortably in a safe place, peaceful, and someone takes it upon themselves to choose who lives and who dies? Amir was a bright light and deserved to be able to shine.”

Locke agreed with Wells’ sentiment, saying he believes the officer who shot and killed his son should fully be prosecuted.

“His story doesn’t end here,” Locke’s uncle, Andrew Tyler, said.

Locke’s aunt said, “We want justice; not just for Amir, not just for our family, we want justice for the families to be. We want change. We want the change that people are talking about -- our community leaders are talking about and speaking about. We need everyone to know Amir’s name: Amir Locke.”

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus agrees with the victim's attorneys. On Friday the organization released a statement in support of Locke and called for a “transparent and independent investigation” into his death.

Locke was a legal gun owner and had a permit to conceal and carry, and bodycam video showed he was covered in blankets and had his firearm nearby when Minneapolis police entered the apartment where he was sleeping the morning of Feb. 2 and startled him awake.

“Mr. Locke did what many of us might do in the same confusing circumstances, he reached for a legal means of self-defense while he sought to understand what was happening,” said Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus Senior VP of Governmental Affairs Rob Doar in a statement.

“Amir Locke, a lawful gun owner, should still be alive,” Bryan Strawser, chairman of the caucus, added in the statement. “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.”

Locke was shot by a Minneapolis SWAT officer as a team served a warrant at the Bolero Flats apartments Wednesday morning. On Thursday, the city of Minneapolis released body cam footage of the incident, which shows slow motion and regular speed footage of police using a key to enter an apartment, yell "police" and order a subject under a blanket on a sofa to show their hands and get on the ground. The video seems to show Locke roll over holding a gun, and shots are fired. 

The video was released after a day of intense pressure from community groups and Minneapolis legislators, but Mayor Jacob Frey and interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said they needed to show Locke's family the bodycam footage first. 

RELATED: Body-worn camera footage released in police shooting of Amir Locke

RELATED: Emotions run high after release of body cam video in deadly police shooting

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