by Henry Pan
Minnesota Spokesman Recorder
Minneapolis officials released body-worn camera footage of a Minneapolis police officer fatally shooting Amir Locke 36 hours after it happened.
The graphic video depicts an officer quietly inserting a key into the lock. Once the door was opened, four Minneapolis police officers run into the room, yelling, “Police, search warrant.” The officers advance past the kitchen towards a sofa where Locke was sleeping under a fleece blanket. Disturbed by the noise, Locke appears to grab his handgun, prompting an officer, later identified as Officer Mark Hanneman, to fire three shots.
Footage of the killing was delayed because City officials wanted to ensure the family had the chance to review it. “That is a non-negotiable for me,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
The medical examiner has yet to release the autopsy report.
The Feb. 2 morning raid, according to officials, was part of an ongoing homicide investigation undertaken by the St. Paul Police Department. St. Paul police requested the Minneapolis police SWAT team execute both knock and no-knock search warrants at three apartments in the building and obtained “evidence” from the apartment where Locke was staying.
“It is obvious that Mr. Locke was startled awake by a cacophony of voices shouting indiscernibly and certainly felt his life was in danger when he reached for his lawfully owned firearm,” read a statement from police watchdog group Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB).
Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman said at a press conference on Thursday evening announced with a half-hour notice to select media that Locke was not named in the original search warrant.
Locke’s family and friends say he had a permit to carry, and activists at a late afternoon press conference chastised the City for releasing photos of the gun recovered, but not the officer’s gun.
Locke also does not have a criminal background and had no outstanding warrants in all seven Metro area counties at the time of his death.
Officer Hanneman appears to have dedicated his career to law enforcement, with stints in Minneapolis, Brookings, S.D., and Hutchinson, located 55 miles west of Minneapolis, as early as 2006. He also appears to be a recent graduate of Concordia University of St. Paul’s Masters in Criminal Justice program, where he wrote a thesis on school resource officers and was once a Minneapolis school resource officer.
Hanneman was named as a defendant in two federal lawsuits in the early 2010s, both while he was a Hutchinson police officer. He was accused in one lawsuit of distributing marijuana to Occupy Minnesota activists as part of a training exercise (he was later dropped as a defendant). In another lawsuit, he executed an unwarranted drug search on someone giving a friend a ride home, which resulted in a judgment against him, his colleagues, and the City in the amount of $4,500.
According to CUAPB, Hanneman’s Minneapolis tenure resulted in four citizen complaints, three of which were closed with no discipline.
During the press conference on Thursday, civil rights activist and attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong chastised Mayor Frey and Chief Huffman over their handling of the incident and for assigning blame to the St. Paul Police department while failing to take care of Minneapolis residents.
“We’re tired of the cover-ups; we’re tired of the excuses. And to hide behind the St. Paul Police Department, the deadliest police force in the state of Minnesota is unacceptable. You all had no business agreeing to carry out a warrant and now you’re claiming ‘that’s part of their investigation,’” Levy Armstrong said as she fought back tears and noted seeing a photo of Amir that reminded her of her 17-year-old son.
While talking with Huffman and Frey, she threatened to step down as co-chair of Frey’s police reform workgroup, which was established shortly after he was re-elected
The group, which is tasked to devise recommendations to change policing in Minneapolis, recently had a mayoral candidate and community organizer Sheila Nezhad leave over transparency concerns.
“I’m only committed to working on this workgroup if you all are committed to being honest and transparent, and not covering up the bullsh*t,” said Levy Armstrong. “You guys aren’t gonna waste my godd*mn time.”
Locke’s family is being represented by attorneys Ben Crump and Jeff Storms, who also represented the families of George Floyd and Daunte Wright after their respective killings by local police. They plan to host a virtual press conference on Friday morning.
Story reprinted with permission from the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.