MINNEAPOLIS — The search warrant that resulted in the police shooting of Amir Locke was not originally supposed to be a “no-knock” warrant, law enforcement sources tell KARE 11 Investigative Reporter A.J. Lagoe.
St. Paul police originally did not request a no-knock warrant from a judge, but when Minneapolis police were asked to execute the warrant, MPD insisted the warrant be changed to authorize it be executed without first knocking, KARE 11 has learned.
The warrant to support the raid has not yet been made public.
At a Thursday night press conference, interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman told reporters that "both a no-knock and a knock search warrant were obtained... so the SWAT team could assess the circumstances and make the best possible decision."
Local civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong interrupted Huffman and Mayor Jacob Frey's news conference demanding answers about why a no-knock warrant was needed in the first place. Huffman did not provide an answer before leaving the news conference.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his fellow attorney Jeff Storms, who are representing Locke's family, responded to KARE 11's reporting in a statement on Friday afternoon.
"Today, it was reported that the search warrant used to enter the residence where Amir was staying was changed from a ‘knock’ warrant to a ‘no-knock’ warrant at the insistence of the Minneapolis police," the statement read. "This inexplicable, yet deliberate choice needlessly ended Amir’s life. It’s past time that the Minneapolis PD be transparent and accountable to Amir’s family and the community that they are sworn to protect. No-knock raids at the hands of law enforcement continue to take the lives of innocent Black people. We ask that just as people raised their voices for Breonna Taylor, they do the same for Amir Locke. Enough is enough.”
In a previous statement on Thursday, Crump decried law enforcement use of no-knock warrants.
“Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans," Crump said. "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. We will continue pushing for answers in this case so that Amir’s grieving family can get the closure they deserve.”
WATCH: An April 2021 KARE 11 Investigates report on a previous problem with a no-knock warrant involving Minneapolis police:
State Rep. Athena Hollins has been a vocal critic of no-knock warrants, saying they create too much risk for both law enforcement and citizens to make a split-second deadly decision.
"If we can use a tool other than no knock warrants we absolutely should – it should be a tool of last resort," Rep. Hollins said.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a statement Friday calling for a reexamination of warrant policies.
“To ensure the safety of both residents and law enforcement, we need to make additional changes to police policies and practices regarding the execution of search warrants," Gov. Walz said.
Last year, the Minnesota legislature took some steps to regulate when no-knocks are used, and now requires their use to be tracked. However, Hollins said that doesn't go far enough, and she's starting work on a bill to further restrict the use of "no-knock" warrants statewide, except in the most high-risk cases.
Hollins said a murder case could qualify as high-risk, but in the situation that led to Amir Locke's death, the information still isn't clear.
"We know we’re still waiting for more information to come out. We know this was an evidence gathering warrant and not necessarily an apprehension," Hollins said.
In a statement Thursday, St. Paul Police Department spokesperson Steve Linders said the warrants related to the original homicide case remain under seal until a court allows their release. However, Linders did provide more detail into the cooperation between the departments.
"After the warrants in this case were signed by a Hennepin County judge, the Saint Paul Police Department asked the Minneapolis Police Department to carry out three of them at an apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. The apartment complex management team complied with the court orders and provided access to the MPD officers," Linders said in a statement. "When law enforcement agencies have a need to serve a search warrant outside of their jurisdiction, it’s common practice for them to request assistance from other agencies. This is done for several reasons, including availability of resources, knowledge of the addresses being searched and familiarity of the area and community. Each agency has its own protocols and policies for serving search warrants. The agency responsible for serving the warrant determines what tactics that will be used."
Linders said there have been no arrests made in their original homicide investigation.
The Minneapolis Police Department has identified the officer who shot Amir Locke as Mark Hanneman.
On Saturday, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis released the following statement:
The Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will gather the needed facts for the investigation, and no conclusions should be made until the investigation is complete.
Policing, particularly with a SWAT team, is a dangerous, high-stress profession where officers are forced to make important split-second decisions in defense of themselves and fellow officers, especially when weapons are involved. Weapons are drawn and used when officers are faced with significant safety threats.
This particular SWAT team was conducting a homicide-suspect search warrant, authorized by a judge, as part of an investigation of a violent crime. Officers were obviously prepared for a very dangerous and high-risk situation. During the event, as shown in the body-camera footage, Officer Hannemen quickly encountered Mr. Locke who was armed with a handgun and made the decision to use deadly force. No officer goes into a dangerous setting like this wanting to use a weapon. That decision was not taken lightly, and the impact of the use of deadly force will affect these officers, their families, and the family of Mr. Locke for the rest of their lives.
We express our sympathies to the family for the loss of Amir Locke that resulted from this tragic chain of events as well as our support of the officers and their families.