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

Minneapolis police said family members were given a chance to view the footage before it was released to the public.

MINNEAPOLIS — Late Thursday, Minneapolis police released a portion of police-worn body camera footage from the fatal shooting of Amir Locke on Wednesday morning.

The video, which is graphic in nature, 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 before gunshots are fired.

The entire incident transpires in a matter of seconds.

The video released by MPD can be viewed below or at this YouTube link. It contains graphic language and content.

Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman and Mayor Jacob Frey responded to the release of the footage at a press conference Thursday night, stating that their first priority was to give Locke's family a chance to see the video before it was made public.

During the press conference, Huffman explained the tactics police used throughout the video. She said the footage shows the barrel of a gun in the hands of the person under the blanket, leading the officer to "make a split-second decision to assess the circumstances, and determine whether he felt like there was ... a threat."

Huffman also publicly acknowledged that Locke was not named on the warrant that officers were executing at the residence that day, and said it's unclear if he had any connection to the original homicide investigation by the St. Paul Police Department.

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

The press conference was interrupted by civil rights attorney and former Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy Armstrong, who questioned why Minneapolis police needed to be involved in executing a search warrant for another community. Levy Armstrong also publicly questioned her own future involvement as co-chair of the mayor's workgroup working toward police accountability, and demanded leadership and accountability from Mayor Frey and Interim Chief Huffman.

Mylan Masson, the retired training director for Minnesota's Law Enforcement Program, reviewed the video shortly after it was released around 7 p.m. She said she would need to see more evidence to determine whether or not the shooting was justified, a decision that ultimately falls to the county attorney.

In particular, Masson said it will be important to figure out why the warrant was issued, and whether Locke was connected to the St. Paul homicide investigation. Late Thursday, Interim Chief Huffman confirmed that Locke was not named in the search warrant and that it was not clear "if or how he is connected to St. Paul's investigation." St. Paul Police have not answered that question yet.

"We just have to wait and see," Masson said. "Wait for all the evidence, the totality of the evidence."

Masson said that SWAT teams typically choose overnight or early-morning hours to execute search warrants, and that they are trained to utilize large teams in case they encounter several people in a residence.

"That's why they send so many people in, so they can keep track of everybody," Masson said. "So that one person doesn't have to keep track of three or four people. They want to split it up."

The video's release came hours after community activists and a group of Minneapolis legislators called on the city's mayor and interim chief to release bodycam video of the fatal shooting.

In a letter to Mayor Frey and interim Police Chief Huffman, the group of 10 Democratic lawmakers notes the strained relations and lack of trust between police and city residents. This latest incident to fray that increasingly tenuous relationship is the shooting of a man by a SWAT officer during the execution of a warrant at the Bolero Flats Apartments. 

On Thursday, Minneapolis police identified the man shot and killed as 22-year-old Amir Locke.

"These past few years have been difficult on the Minneapolis community due to strained relations and lack of trust between the community and the Minneapolis Police Department,” the delegation stated in the letter. “We believe that one path to establishing trust between the police department and the community is greater transparency and accountability of police actions. Releasing the bodycam footage of this event, allowing the public to see actions of both officers and Mr. Locke is essential."

Those signing the letter include Rep. Fue Lee (59A), Rep. Esther Agbaje (59B), Rep. Sydney Jordan (60A), Rep. Mohamud Noor (60B), Rep. Frank Hornstein (61A), Rep. Jamie Long (61B), Rep. Hodan Hassan (62A), Rep. Aisha Gomez (62B), Rep. Jim Davnie (63A), and Rep. Emma Greenman (63B).

Earlier on Thursday, Levy Armstrong challenged the public police narrative of events in a widely circulated social media post, while also demanding the immediate release of body camera footage.

Credit: Locke family attorney
Amir Locke

Levy Armstrong joined community activists at a press conference Thursday evening at Minneapolis City Hall calling for more transparency from law enforcement, including releasing more information about the warrant and the medical response following the shooting. Further calls were also made for the release of the bodycam video.

Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Jeff Storms announced a virtual press conference will be held Friday morning where they will be joined by the family of Locke.

“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," said Crump in a statement. "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 BELOW: Community activists call for more transparency and the release of bodycam video in a press conference Thursday at Minneapolis City Hall. WARNING: Some graphic language.

Mayor Jacob Frey's office also released a statement saying the mayor was working with the MPD and BCA to get the video released as quickly as possible without compromising the shooting investigation, and that he's "committed to ensuring the family has had an opportunity to review the body camera footage prior to the public release."

Following the shooting on Wednesday morning, interim Chief Huffman initially told reporters that a SWAT team was serving a warrant for the St. Paul homicide unit around 7 a.m. when they entered the apartment after loudly announcing their intentions. She says about nine seconds after entering officers encountered the man, who Huffman says was armed with a handgun and pointing at officers. 

RELATED: Police shoot, kill man in downtown Minneapolis apartment

The department later released pictures of a gun that police said belonged to the man who was shot.

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