The Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Amir Locke, a black man, during a February morning raid on an apartment complex will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The shooting drew thousands of protesters into the streets and renewed calls for police accountability in the city where George Floyd was killed.
Although the murder prompted new rounds of convictions against the Minneapolis Police Department and the mayor who oversees it, legal experts considered criminal charges unlikely. That’s because Mr. Locke, who was woken up in the early hours of the morning by officers who entered the apartment with a warrant for his arrest, was holding his own gun. Mr. Locke owned the gun legally.
Mr. Locke was 22 years old when he was killed. He was an aspiring musician. His father, Andre Locke, said in an emotional news conference after the shooting that his son was days away from moving to Texas to live near his mother.
“Amir Locke’s life mattered,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Prosecutor Michael Freeman said in a joint statement. “He was a young man with plans to move to Dallas, where he would be closer to his mother and hopefully build a career as a hip-hop artist, following in his father’s musical footsteps.”
In announcing that they would not press charges, prosecutors criticized the search that police carried out with a search warrant, but said they would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer had committed a crime in violation of the law. Minnesota law that allows officers to use deadly force in certain situations.
In a brief, graphic police body camera video clip released after the murder, Mr. Locke is seen under a blanket on the sofa where he slept, clearly dazed and frightened as he raises a gun he was holding in his hand. hand.
Mr. Locke was not a suspect in the warrant, which was being carried out in connection with a homicide investigation in nearby Saint Paul. But after the murder, the police department’s first statement on the incident portrayed Mr. Locke as a suspect, a misstatement that fueled anger in the community and drew comparisons to the department’s first misleading statement on Mr. Floyd, who said he died later. a medical emergency.
In a region still shaken by the killing of Mr. Floyd, as well as the police killing of Daunte Wright, a Black man, in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center last year, the killing of Mr. Locke reopened wounds in the community. they were still raw.
The killing of Mr. Locke also brought renewed scrutiny to a department that is still strained by the exodus of hundreds of officers following the killing of Mr. Floyd, and is still struggling to enact reforms and regain trust with the community.
That Mr. Locke was killed when police used a warrant for his arrest, a police tactic that was heavily criticized in the wake of the 2020 police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., after a botched raid, only added to the anger in Minneapolis.
Mayor Jacob Frey had previously limited the use of warrants, but Locke’s murder prompted accusations that Frey misled the public during his re-election campaign last year when he claimed to have banned such warrants. In response to Mr. Locke’s murder, the mayor issued a new policy this week, which prohibits no-knock orders and requires officers to knock and announce their presence, and then wait, before entering a building.
“This policy is among the most comprehensive and forward-looking in the nation, and will help keep both our residents and officers safe,” Mr. Frey said in a statement.
Just as Mr. Wright was killed last year during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer convicted of murdering Mr. Floyd, Mr. Locke’s murder occurred during a federal trial in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the other three officers. involved in the death of Mr. Floyd. Those three officers were found guilty of violating Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights.