Amir Locke’s parents vow to get justice for their son killed by police executing no-knock warrant

By: - February 4, 2022 2:16 pm

Amir Locke was killed by police on Feb. 2, 2022, in a downtown Minneapolis apartment.

The parents of Amir Locke, 22-year-old Black man killed by Minneapolis police on Wednesday, say he was a caring person who enjoyed learning and wanted to change the world through helping youth.

Locke’s parents — Andre Locke and Karen Wells — spoke publicly about their son for the first time during a news conference on Friday with their attorney Ben Crump, who has also represented the families of victims of a number of high-profile police killings of Black people including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Daunte Wright.

“My baby had a beautiful spirit,” Wells said. “Amir was very respectful. He was raised with morals and values. He respected law enforcement.”

The news conference comes just a day after Locke’s parents saw body camera footage of their son’s killing, which was then made public. It shows a police SWAT team rushing into an apartment and approaching a figure lying on the couch under a heavy blanket. In less than 10 seconds, officers approach Locke, yelling “Police! Search warrant!” Police lights illuminate Locke’s face and a gun in his hand briefly before an officer shoots him three times.

Andre Locke said his son was a deep sleeper and said he must have been surprised and confused when the SWAT team rushed into the apartment he was sleeping in.

“He didn’t have a chance,” Andre Locke said. “My heart ripped out of my body to see his life taken from him.”

Locke’s parents say he had a permit to carry a gun. Crump and his legal team praised the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, a pro-gun political action group, for its Friday statement in support of Locke.

Rob Doar, senior vice president of the gun caucus, wrote in a statement: “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 … The tragic circumstances of Mr. Locke’s death were completely avoidable.”

Crump and Locke’s family did not announce a civil rights lawsuit on Friday but vowed to get justice for Locke. Crump and his team won a historic $27 million settlement last year from the city of Minneapolis for the police killing of Floyd.

“As his mother, I will make sure that as long as I’m on this side of this world, I’m going to fight every day … to make sure that Amir Rahkare Locke gets justice for being executed by the MPD,” Wells said.

Crump made a direct connection between Locke’s killing and that of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in Louisville, Kentucky, during a botched raid with a no-knock warrant.

He criticized Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for claiming to reform the department’s use of no-knock warrants only to allow them to continue to proceed.

“They were going to abolish them. But yet we have this happen to Amir Locke,” Crump said. “If we learned anything from Breonna Taylor, it is that no-knock warrants have deadly consequences for innocent, law-abiding Black citizens.”

The policy change Frey made in November 2020, requires officers to announce themselves as “police” and their purpose as “search warrant” before crossing the threshold of the door.

The Frey-aligned political action committee All of Minneapolis, which worked to reelect the mayor and defeat a ballot initiative to replace the police department, touted that Frey “banned no-knock warrants.” On Friday, the organization’s website was scrubbed of its endorsement of Frey and the mention of his banning no-knock warrants.

The Minneapolis Police Department was executing the warrant on behalf of the St. Paul Police Department in a homicide investigation. According to KARE 11, St. Paul police did not request a no-knock warrant but Minneapolis police insisted on one. St. Paul Police spokesman Steve Linders wouldn’t comment on that specifically, saying only that each agency has its own protocols and policies for serving search warrants, and the agency responsible for serving the warrant determines what tactics will be used. He also said the St. Paul department hasn’t served a no-knock warrant since May 2016.

Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said on Thursday both knock and no-knock warrants were issued for three apartments in the Bolero Flats building in downtown Minneapolis, where Locke was killed.

Jeff Storms, a Minneapolis-based civil rights attorney who works with Crump, questioned why the city needed a no-knock warrant to recover evidence.

“This was a warrant for property, which makes it even more difficult to understand why they would execute such a high-risk warrant with such an increased likelihood for death or other serious harm,” Storms said.

Crump also blasted the Minneapolis Police Department for releasing what he called an erroneous press release that referred to Locke as a “suspect” when city officials later said he was not named in the original warrants. He pointed back to the press release first issued after Floyd’s killing that said he died “after a medical incident.”

“(MPD), we can only conclude, was trying to assassinate the character of Amir Locke to try to justify their unjustifiable act of executing this no-knock warrant,” Crump said. “He had no criminal history. He was a law-abiding citizen.”

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.