Amir Locke Murder | On Feb. 2, SWAT team members executed the no-knock warrant on behalf of St. Paul police at an apartment inside Bolero Flats in downtown Minneapolios. The warrant was in connection with the fatal shooting of Otis Elder in January.
A Minneapolis police officer will not face charges in the shooting death of Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man the officer shot and killed during a no-knock raid inside a downtown apartment earlier this year.
According to public records, Officer Mark Hanneman fired the shots that killed Locke. Body-worn camera footage will be posted online Wednesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
Following weeks of investigation, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension sent its final case report to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to review for possible charges. The decision came down Wednesday morning, and was jointly announced by Freeman — who said “to charge a case like this would simply be wrong” — and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
The two prosecutors say there was “insufficient admissible evidence” to file criminal charges, and said they are “not allowed to evaluate the case from the perspective of the victim.”
“Specifically, the State would be unable to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of Minnesota’s use-of-deadly-force statute that authorizes the use of force by Officer Hanneman. Nor would the State be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a criminal charge against any other officer involved in the decision-making that led to the death of Amir Locke,” the joint statement said.
Detailed in a 44-page joint report, prosecutors say an objectively reasonable officer in Hanneman’s position would have perceived an “immediate threat of death or great bodily harm that was reasonably likely to occur, and an objectively reasonable officer would not delay in using deadly force.”
A spokesperson with the Minneapolis Police Department says that Hanneman has been back on duty since Feb. 28.
“Officer Hanneman was assigned to a role that is the best fit for the needs of the department and his service to the City of Minneapolis. That assignment does not include SWAT,” the spokesperson said.
The joint statement said it was not the role of both offices to evaluate whether a no-knock warrant was appropriate.
“[Locke] should be alive today, and his death is a tragedy. Amir Locke was not a suspect in the underlying St. Paul criminal investigation nor was he named in the search warrants. Amir Locke is a victim. This tragedy may not have occurred absent the no-knock warrant used in this case,” the statement said.
“One thing Amir was not, Amir was not a suspect,” Ellison said. “Our investigation found that he had no role in the homicide that brought the police to the apartment.”
The decision was announced after Freeman and Ellison met with Locke’s family Wednesday morning.
“They expressed frustration with no-knock warrants. They believe if a no-knock warrant wasn’t used Amir Locke would be here today,” Freeman said.
Ellison said this case highlights the need to put no-knock warrants under close scrutiny.
“The area of no-knock warrants needs reform. There is very broad discretionary latitude,” Ellison said. “(They are) not particularly safe for officers, either. It’s appropriate to investigate and come up with a policy that works.”
The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis released this statement late Wednesday afternoon about the decision:
The POFM is pleased with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and Minnesota Attorney General’s decision to not charge Officer Hanneman. After a thorough investigation by the BCA, the facts of the case and the applicable laws did not support charges. MPD SWAT was executing the warrant the evidence shows that Officer Hanneman was faced with a deadly threat and he had to make a split-decision to use deadly force to protect himself and others from death or great bodily harm. The use of deadly force by an officer is never taken lightly and weighs heavy on the officers involved. The incident was a tragedy for everyone involved and will have a lasting impact on many lives.
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