Amir Locke: Psaki says Biden backs end to no knock warrants used in police killing of Black man

Congress’s attempts to reform policing died last year

Eric Garcia
Washington DC
Monday 07 February 2022 23:20 GMT
Amir Locke was killed by police in Minneapolis on Wednesday 2 February
Amir Locke was killed by police in Minneapolis on Wednesday 2 February (Locke Family)

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden supported the end of no-knock warrants after police shot and killed Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, though Congress has little chance of passing anything. However, Mr Biden’s spokesperson added that the president may take further action to limit the practice among federal law enforcement.

Minneapolis police killed Mr Locke as they executed a no-knock warrant during a homicide investigation. Body camera footage showed him covered in a blanket and holding a gun, for which he had a permit, before officers shot him. Mr Locke was not named in the warrant.

Ms Psaki expressed condolences to the family.

“The president’s committed to ensuring fair and impartial and effective policing to keep our communities safe,” she said. “These goals go hand-in-hand and are in his view, with what we can achieve by building trust between the police and communities they serve.”

Ms Psaki said Attorney General Merrick Garland instituted a new policy imposing the restrictions on no-knock warrants, chokeholds and restraints. But that policy applied only to federal agents, not to local authorities. She added that one reason why President Biden supported the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was it would have further restricted the use of no-knock warrants by using funding as an incentive.

“We have been engaging with, as you know civil rights groups, a number of law enforcement groups, all agree with the use of no-knock warrants,” she said. “The president is examining the possibility of extending those restrictions to other agencies through executive actions he would have the power to do.”

Psaki’s hint that the Biden administration may rein in the controversial policing practice would not have affected the outcome in Minneapolis, as any executive action signed by the president would affect federal law enforcement, not local police.

The legislation that would have handled police reform died in negotiations between Sens Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, as well as Democratic Rep Karen Bass of California. Mr Biden lamented the failure to reach a deal in September.

“That is why my Administration has already taken important steps, with the Justice Department announcing new policies on chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and body cameras,” he said.

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