Police in the Twin Cities are once again in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons after body camera footage showcased all that is wrong with the execution of no-knock warrants.
Late last Friday, a video of the Minneapolis police SWAT team made national waves after it showcased just how chaotic and deadly these no-knock warrants can be. It also showed how someone not named in the warrant, legally possessing a firearm in their own home can be killed in a matter of seconds during these extremely outdated raid tactics.
Just before 7 a.m. Wednesday, law enforcement decided to execute a search warrant at an apartment complex in regards to a murder investigation. According to reports, St. Paul police wanted to execute a knock warrant, but Minneapolis police insisted that a no-knock warrant be executed, and they ended up taking over the raid from the SPPD.
Body camera footage (warning, NSFW) shows that a 6:48 a.m., Minneapolis police use a key to enter a specific apartment. Once inside, they shout “Police, search warrant” and “Get on the f****** ground.” A man, later identified as Amir Locke, is seen sleeping under a blanket on the couch as police enter the room. In a matter of seconds, he wakes up, starts to roll off the couch to see what the commotion is, and grabs a firearm that was positioned nearby, just like any person with a valid permit to carry may do if someone unexpectedly burst into their apartment while they were sleeping.
As you might imagine, that instinct to grab the firearm he was legally possessing inside his own home proved to be a fatal decision for Locke. Not more than eight seconds after they had entered the apartment, police opened fire on Locke, and he passed away as a result of his injuries.
Locke Not Named In Warrant
When you read that police were executing a no-knock warrant as part of a murder investigation, your mind may have first jumped to the thought that police need to use extreme caution when pursuing a suspect who may have already taken someone else’s life. That’s a fair assumption, but if that’s going to be the case, police need to ensure they do everything in their power to isolate the named suspect as best as possible in order to minimize risk to civilians.
As it turns out, Locke wasn’t named in either of the warrants that were obtained, and he was not a subject of the murder investigation. In other words, a person who was legally following the Second Amendment, in the privacy of his own home, was needlessly executed by police who entered his home unannounced while he was sleeping. It’s simply outrageous.
What’s even more outrageous is that police escalation tactics and needless deaths continue to happen in Minneapolis, even in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Months later we covered the death of Daunte Wright, who died when an officer thought she was discharging her Taser, not her service weapon, during a traffic stop. Once again, the Twin Cities find themselves at the center of national outcry over the death of Locke.
After George Floyd’s death, Minneapolis police restricted their use of no-knock warrants in a wide-ranging set of reforms. However, judges were still allowed to sign off on no-knock warrants for certain high-risk situations. It’s unclear what information police were working on that led a judge to sign off on this dangerous tactic, but it’s clear that an even more high-risk situation developed as a result of the SWAT team raid.
Protests have already started around the Twin Cities, and we hope everyone voicing their displeasure remains safe. No more innocent lives need to be tied to Locke’s death. Hopefully his family can ultimately achieve some sort of justice, but for now is death is another black eye in a city already full of bruises.