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Minneapolis police killed Amir Locke while serving a no-knock warrant

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In Minneapolis, officials continue to investigate the shooting death of a 22-year-old Black man during a no-knock police raid this week. Amir Locke was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer as he lay on a couch in a downtown apartment. Jon Collins of Minnesota Public Radio reports.

JON COLLINS, BYLINE: It was early Wednesday morning that a Minneapolis police SWAT team carried out a search warrant at a downtown apartment building. Body camera footage shows officers opening the door with a key and then swarming into the apartment, announcing their presence.

Amir Locke is laying on the couch under a blanket with a weapon in his hand. Police say Locke was shot by Officer Mark Hanneman within nine seconds. He died at a nearby hospital. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is promising transparency as investigations into the killing move forward.

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JACOB FREY: This video raises about as many questions as it does answers. And those answers we need to be providing as quickly as possible through a number of investigations that are, in fact, already underway.

COLLINS: According to Amir Locke's family, he had a permit to carry a gun, which he felt he needed for protection from robberies while working for DoorDash. Locke doesn't have a criminal history in Minnesota, and permit-to-carry information is not publicly available.

Attorney Ben Crump has taken on the Locke family civil case. He previously represented George Floyd's family in a $27 million legal settlement after Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020.

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BEN CRUMP: If we learned anything from Breonna Taylor, it is that no-knock warrants have deadly consequences for innocent, law-abiding Black citizens.

COLLINS: In fact, Minneapolis enacted a ban on most no-knock raids in 2020. Officials haven't responded to questions about why they used a no-knock raid in this case. Some activists are criticizing the original narrative released by Minneapolis police. A press release described Locke as a suspect and said he pointed the gun at an officer, an action the body cam video doesn't show.

The city's interim police chief, Amelia Huffman, later said that Locke was not the target of the search warrant. Attorney Jeff Storms, who is assisting with the civil case, called Locke's killing abhorrent.

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JEFF STORMS: Our city has to do better. We continue to be known for these colossal civil rights failures. And so now the question is, is the city going to, you know, hold itself accountable? And is - can we believe the city anymore when it says it's going to learn?

COLLINS: Amir Locke's parents spoke publicly today for the first time since their son was shot and killed. His father, Andre Locke, described his son as a good kid who was into music and wanted to help people.

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ANDRE LOCKE: Amir didn't deserve what happened. Amir was surprised. Life was taken from him.

COLLINS: Locke's mother, Karen Wells, watched the body camera footage before it was released to the public. She vowed to fight for her son and other Black men killed by police officers.

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KAREN WELLS: A mother should never have to see her child executed in that type of manner. I gave birth to Amir, not Minneapolis. I did. And you all took him.

COLLINS: The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office today called Locke's death a homicide. The officer who killed him is on paid administrative leave. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is working with the county attorney here to decide whether or not the officer who shot Locke should be charged. Protests over the police shooting are likely this weekend.

For NPR News, I'm Jon Collins in Minneapolis.

(SOUNDBITE OF THIS WILL DESTROY YOU'S "QUIET") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.