‘Deadly consequences’: Ben Crump slams no-knock warrants after fatal police shooting of 22-year-old man

‘The mother in me is furious and sick to my stomach. Amir never had a chance to survive that encounter with police’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 04 February 2022 18:23 GMT
MPD body camera video released of police shooting, killing of Amir Locke

Karen Wells, the mother of Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police, has hired lawyer Ben Crump, who also represented the family of George Floyd.

Police used a no-knock warrant during a homicide investigation when they entered the apartment where Mr Locke, who was holding a gun, was killed at 6.48am on Wednesday.

Mr Crump said in a statement that as in “the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans. 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”.

Civil rights lawyer and community activist Nekima Levy Armstrong said the family of Mr Locke had told her that he had a license for the gun, that he had a concealed carry permit, that he wasn’t a resident of the apartment where he was shot, that law enforcement hadn’t been searching for him, and that he wasn’t one of the three people named in the no-knock warrant.

Ms Armstrong posted the body camera video on social media, writing that it was “for those who can stomach the murderous conduct of the Minneapolis Police Department”.

“The mother in me is furious and sick to my stomach. Amir never had a chance to survive that encounter with police,” she said.

The footage was released following outrage at the incident, with some comparing it to the deadly shooting of Ms Taylor, who was shot and killed during the execution of a no-knock warrant in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020.

Neighbour Keri Coquemont told CBS Minnesota that “I feel very anxious. More anxious about why something of such magnitude, and I’m on the same floor and I didn’t hear anything”.

“I heard nothing. No gunshots, no police announcing [themselves], no police sirens,” she added.

Susan Larson told the local TV station that she moved out of the apartment next door on Saturday because she didn’t feel safe.

“I probably called 911 no fewer than 10, 11, 12 times,” Ms Larson told CBS. “I didn’t feel safe. I was scared out of my mind.”

Activist DJ Hooker said during a press conference and vigil outside the apartment building on Wednesday that police “decided if a Black man got to live or die in nine seconds”.

“Why did they have to endanger every single person in this apartment building? Somebody could have been out in the hallway, somebody could have got shot above,” activist Toussaint Morrison added.

The video shows Mr Locke on a couch covered by a blanket and holding a gun in the moments before he’s shot by Minneapolis officers.

In the footage, several officers enter the apartment at 6.48am on Wednesday using a key, shooting Mr Locke within 10 seconds of entering the home.

When they enter the apartment, the police officers yell “police – search warrant” several times as well as “hands” and “get on the ground”.

One of the officers kicks the couch, and Mr Locke starts to come out from under the blanket holding a firearm. The police officers then fire three rounds, Mr Locke falls to the floor and the video ends.

The bodycam footage was released about 36 hours after the shooting, as the public called for transparency from the authorities in what happened to Mr Locke.

The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr Locke had aimed the gun “in the direction of officers”.

Body camera video shows 22-year-old Amir Locke wrapped in a blanket on a couch holding a gun moments before he was shot by Minneapolis police on Wednesday, Feb 2, 2022 (AP)
Police point their guns at Amir Locke as he lies on a sofa under a blanket before being shot (Minneapolis Police Department/AF)

Mr Locke had two wounds in his chest and one in his right wrist, an incident report said.

Following the release of the video, Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman confirmed during a press conference that Mr Locke wasn’t named in the warrant, adding that it’s unclear if he’s connected to the homicide investigation.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the video “raises about as many questions as it does answers” and that the city was working to find answers “as quickly as possible and in transparent fashion”. The matter will be investigated, including by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

“Approximately nine seconds into the entry, officers encountered a male who was armed with a handgun pointed in the direction of officers. At one point, shots were fired, and the adult male suspect was struck. Officers immediately provided emergency aid and carried the suspect down to the lobby to meet paramedics,” police said in a press release.

In these images released by police, the victim’s gun is shown (Minneapolis Police)

“Any officer-involved shooting is a tragic incident,” Chief Huffman told reporters on Wednesday. “This is the call that no police chief wants to receive.”

“Let’s start with the reality that any loss of life is tragic,” Mr Frey said. “And that’s where we’re keeping our thoughts front and center as we work alongside our community partners, and as the investigation gets underway.”

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