Minnesota governor Tim Walz speaks in the State Capitol building in St. Paul Thursday, September 17, 2020. Photo by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.
Gov. Tim Walz on Friday issued his first public statement following the Minneapolis police killing of Amir Locke, the 22-year-old Black man shot by a Minneapolis SWAT officer during a predawn raid Wednesday.
The killing is sparking fresh criticism of no-knock raids, which police say is a way to preserve evidence during investigations because it gives occupants of a building or home little notice police are entering. Police say it also helps ensure officer safety in case there are firearms in a location, giving potential suspects less time to find and use guns.
“Minnesota made strides last year, passing statewide restrictions on the use of no-knock warrants,” Walz said. “But the events leading to the death of Amir Locke illustrate the need for further reform. 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.”
Walz did not specify what policy changes he is seeking.
Lawmakers last year approved legislation to limit the use of no-knock warrants, which limits them to daylight hours and requires detailed information about why they are necessary instead of knock-and-announce warrants.
The changes also required such warrants, sometimes referred to as dynamic entry, to get review and approval from a chief law enforcement officer or their designee. A no-knock warrant cannot be issued if the only crime alleged is possession of drugs that is suspected to be for personal use.
The SWAT team was executing a search warrant for three apartments in Bolero Flats in downtown Minneapolis on behalf of the St. Paul Police Department.
Minneapolis city and police officials on Thursday night released a 55-second snippet of body camera footage showing the killing.
In a tweet, state Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, said he supported further limiting the use of no-knock warrants.
“Legislature advanced changes curbing/regulating use (last year and) perhaps now need POST (board) to do more,” said Mariani, who chairs the House public safety and criminal justice reform committee.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement that lawmakers need more information to know whether police followed law in requesting and executing the no-knock warrant.
Members of the House People of Color and Indigenous caucus, meanwhile, called for a statewide ban on the use of such warrants.
“We attempted to regulate no-knock warrants last session, but that clearly didn’t go far enough,” state Rep. Athena Hollins, DFL-St. Paul, said in a statement. “Until law enforcement stops seeing Black people as something to fear, we need a complete ban. Minnesotans deserve better than this.”
A request seeking comment from his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, was not immediately returned.
The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, an advocacy gun rights group, on Friday issued a statement criticizing the killing and the practice of no-knock warrants.
“It’s yet another example where a no-knock warrant has resulted in the death of an innocent person,” said Rob Doar, the group’s senior vice president for governmental affairs. “In this case, as in others, the public should expect and receive full transparency and accountability from law enforcement agencies that serve and protect our local communities.”
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