Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman are not filing criminal charges against Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Hanneman for fatally shooting Locke during an early morning no-knock warrant raid. Hanneman shot Locke, who was not a suspect nor a subject of the warrant, within nine seconds of officers entering the home where Locke was sleeping. In a joint statement regarding their decision issued on April 6, 2022, Ellison and Freeman stated they would be “unable to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt” any of the elements of Minnesota law that authorize use of force.
On the day of the announcement, Locke’s mother Karen Wells was attending the National Action Network Convention, hosted by founder Rev. Al Sharpton in New York, N.Y. She, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Sharpton held a press conference from there.
"I'm disgusted," said Wells of the decision. According to Wells, Locke was a delivery person for DoorDash and Instacart, and decided that he needed to carry a firearm to protect himself from crime she described as “out of control” in Minneapolis.
“But at the end of the day, the Second Amendment doesn’t matter to him,” she said. “He has too much melanin.”
Crump said the National Rifle Association should be outraged.
“Where’s the Second Amendment supporters for Black people who have a right to bear arms”? asked Crump.
He also called no knock warrants “unjustifiable, unnecessary and unconstitutionall,” and said they were an affront to the Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful, unreasonable searches and seizures that also disproportionately affect Black people. (Of 27 no-knock warrants issued in the two years before Louisville banned their use, for example, 82% of the targets were Black, according to November 2020 analysis by the Courier Journal).
“We saw it with Breonna Taylor, now we see it in Minneapolis,” said Crump.
On April 8, Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis Police Department enacted a new policy prohibiting the execution of no-knock warrants, and will no longer request no-knock warrants on behalf of other jurisdictions. The no-knock warrant in which police fatally shot Locke was carried out on behalf of the city of St. Paul, though the St. Paul Police Department hadn't requested one. Under the new policy, officers are required to wait at least 20 seconds before entering after announcing their presence during the daytime, 30 seconds overnight. The city will also create a public online dashboard to track forced entries by MPD.
In a prepared statement, attorneys Crump, Jeff Storms and Antonio Romanucci vowed to fight for justice in the civil court system and for the passage of local and national legislation.
“Today only deepens the resolve of Amir’s family and its legal team,” read the statement.
"This is not over. The state made a decision, but the state will not close this case," said Sharpton at the press conference. "We will fight with this family to get a federal investigation into this case."
Wells directed further comments toward Hanneman.
"Be prepared for this family," she said. "This is not over. You may have been found 'not guilty,' but in the eyes of me, being the mother who I am, you are guilty. And I'm not gonna give up."
At a press conference held outside the Hennepin County Governor Center the afternoon of April 6, Communities United Against Police Brutality President Michelle Gross echoed the sentiment of Locke’s mother.
“Our organization is utterly disgusted and outraged by the decision not to bring charges against Mark Hanneman and the other officers involved in the botched no-knock warrant raid on the home that Amir Locke was staying in,” she said. For Gross, the outcome affirms the need for a statute that has been proposed at the legislature that would require an independent prosecutorial and investigative unit for police critical incidents.
"The same system that relies on law enforcement officers to do their main work cannot investigate and prosecute those same officers when they engage in misconduct,” she said.
A rally outside the Government Center and march through downtown streets was held on April 8. Families of Leneal Frazier, Kobe Dimock-Heisler and Justin Teigen, whose lives were taken at the hands of Minnesota police officers, were present to support one another and demand accountability.
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