Criminal justice reformers have frequently criticized law enforcement’s use of “no-knock” search warrants. The reason is simple – they can lead to tragedy.
That’s exactly what happened in Minneapolis, when 22 year-old Amir Locke was shot and killed as police executed a no-knock warrant:
Locke, who was not a target of the investigation, was sleeping in the downtown Minneapolis apartment of a relative when members of a Minneapolis police SWAT team burst in shortly before 7 a.m. Wednesday. Footage from one of the officers’ body cameras showed police quietly unlocking the apartment door with a key before barging inside, yelling “Search warrant!” as Locke lay under a blanket on the couch. An officer kicked the couch, Locke stirred and was shot by officer Mark Hanneman within seconds as Locke held a firearm in his right hand.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Friday that Locke was shot multiple times and died 13 minutes later at HCMC. He was struck twice in the chest and once in the wrist.
But that’s not the end of the story:
Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman initially said that Hanneman shot Locke because Locke pointed his gun “in the direction of officers.” But the footage released by the government appeared to contradict that: Locke’s gun was pointed to the side, and his hand was on the barrel of the weapon, not the trigger.
He owned the gun legally and had a concealed carry permit, according to his family’s legal representation. “My son was executed…and now his dreams have been destroyed,” said Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, at a press conference Friday. “They didn’t even give him a chance,” echoed attorney Ben Crump.
A couple of things….
No-knock warrants are a recipe for disaster. They should be banned.
For gun rights advocates, this is a gut punch. A lawful citizen, a concealed carry permit holder, murdered. By cops. The common interest of criminal justice reformers and gun rights advocates on no knock raids could not be clearer.
The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus gets it:
“The tragic circumstances of Mr. Locke’s death were completely avoidable, “ stated Doar. “It’s yet another example where a no-knock warrant has resulted in the death of an innocent person. 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.”
“Amir Locke, a lawful gun owner, should still be alive, “ added Strawser. “Black men, like all citizens, have a right to keep and bear arms. Black men, like all citizens, have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure.”