Minneapolis police kill Black man while serving no-knock warrant; activists demand answers

Photo by Henry Pan Nekima Levy Armstrong at the press conference on Feb 2, 2022

Activists are seeking answers as Minneapolis police officers killed yet another Black man while executing a search warrant on Wednesday morning.

In a noon press conference and in a City press release, Minneapolis police said their SWAT team gathered at an apartment building on the 1100 block of Marquette Ave. to execute a search warrant on behalf of the St. Paul Police Department investigating a homicide. They gained entry into three of the building’s apartments on two separate floors through a key fob. 

The City’s press release details a nine-second encounter in one of the apartments on one of the floors, where police reportedly loudly announced their presence before shooting at a person aiming a handgun at them. 

The person who had the handgun and was subsequently killed has been identified by activists, who have been liaising with the next of kin, as Amir Locke of Maplewood. Documents from the City reveal he had three gunshot wounds, two to the chest and one to the right wrist.

It is not immediately clear if he was one of the people named in the warrant or its circumstances. His family, through local activists, say Locke had a permit to carry. 

Police say body camera footage of the encounter exists, but are not releasing it as the incident is under investigation. Although such footage is public by state statute, because it involves a police shooting, it can be withheld if it is a part of an active investigation.

Rep. Esther Agbaje, (DFL-Minneapolis), resides in the building and issued a statement. “My heart is with my neighbors in the building. I am in touch with City officials, and hope that we can work together to provide a space for community members to process this traumatic event,” said Agbaje.

One of the officers identified in his killing, Mark Hanneman, 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. According to the police watchdog group Communities United Against Police Brutality, he has four citizen complaints, three of which were closed with no discipline. 

Activists denounced the latest killing in a press conference outside of the apartment building in near-zero temperatures, considering the City had banned the use of such warrants. “Amir was less than 25 years old. He didn’t even have an opportunity to live his life the way that he should have. And it’s very frustrating and upsetting to see the Minneapolis Police Department continue with business as usual,” said civil rights attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong. 

Referring to the use of the no-knock warrant, she said, “They could have declined to participate, they could have deferred the matter to another agency, or they could have called upon the St. Paul Police Department to carry out its own dirty work. But instead, they acted bloodthirsty by calling in a SWAT team to come inside of this residential building.”