Minnesota prosecutors have declined to press charges against the Minneapolis SWAT team that fatally shot Amir Locke in an early morning no-hit raid on the apartment where he was staying.
According to Associated pressAttorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman determined that Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Hanneman was justified in firing his gun.
“There is insufficient admissible evidence to bring criminal charges in this case. Specifically, the state would not be able to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of Minnesota’s use of lethal force law that authorizes the use of force by Officer Hanneman.” , said Messrs. Ellison and Freeman in a joint statement.
The duo also criticized the no-knock warrants in their statement.
“Amir Locke is a victim,” they wrote. “This tragedy may not have happened without the no-knock warrant used in this case.”
Mr Locke, 22, was killed when a SWAT team burst into his apartment without knocking. Officers were investigating a homicide in St Paul and obtained a warrant to search the flat where Mr Locke was staying.
Family members of Mr Locke who witnessed body camera footage from the day of his death said it appeared he had jolted awake before police shot him.
His mother, Karen Wells, called her son’s death “an execution.”
Mr. Locke was not named in the search warrant. Police say Mr Locke pointed a gun at them, prompting police to shoot him. Mr Locke’s family have denied the claim, although body camera footage shows Mr Locke holding a gun.
Critics of smooth raids have pointed out that it is not unreasonable for someone to arm themselves when a group of people burst into their home unexpectedly in the middle of the night.
“[No-knock] The warrants create chaotic and confusing circumstances that put everyone present at risk and these people are disproportionately marginalized people of color,” Ben Crump, the lawyer representing Mr. Locke’s family, said during a press conference shortly after the death of his client.
Mr. Ellison and Mr. Freeman have also expressed their desire to see an end to no-knock warrants.
“Local, state and federal policymakers should seriously weigh the benefits of no-knock warrants, which are dangerous to both law enforcement and the public. Other cities, like St. Paul, and some states have completely ended the use of no-knock warrants,” they wrote in their statement.
The shooting has sparked protests from people who believe Mr Locke’s death was the result of police racial bias and police negligence.
In police body camera footage, the officers burst through the front door and, as they entered, began to shout “Police, search warrant!”, “Hands!” and “Get down!”
An officer approaches a couch, where Mr. Locke is curled up under a duvet, and kicks him. When the duvet is removed, Mr. Locke can be seen holding a gun. The police then shot him and killed him.
Officers arrived at the apartment – which belonged to Mr. Locke’s cousin, Mekhi Camden Speed - to investigate the murder of Otis Elder. Mr. Speed has since been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with Mr. Elder’s death.