The family of Amir Locke, who was killed last February by Minneapolis police in a downtown Minneapolis apartment, is suing the city of Minneapolis and the officer involved in federal court. The Locke family’s legal team unveiled details of their lawsuit in a press conference on Friday, Feb. 3. They argue that the officer who killed Amir and Minneapolis police engaged in racist policing practices that violated Locke’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and resulted in his wrongful death.
Locke was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Hanneman shortly after he was startled awake in a downtown Minneapolis apartment rented by a relative. Hanneman’s team was executing a no-knock search warrant for materials related to a killing in St. Paul. No names, including Locke’s, were listed on the warrant.
Hanneman opened fire on Locke, later telling investigators he feared for his life because the victim possessed a gun. Body camera footage, however, showed that Locke aimed his gun towards the floor and did not have his finger on the trigger.
Hanneman was not charged in Locke’s killing, since state law allows for circumstances in which an officer observes a gun, even though Locke had a concealed carry permit. Hanneman had been sued twice before in federal court in the early 2010s. In the first case he was dismissed as a party, but he lost the second case.
However, Locke’s family and legal team—which includes Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci, and Jeff Storms—believe his rights were violated. They found that the MPD inconsistently trained its officers and believe Locke was targeted because of his race, citing data from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights that found most no-knock warrants executed in Minneapolis involved BIPOC households.
“It’s almost as if [the Founding Fathers] said the Fourth Amendment is too extravagant for Black people to enjoy,” said Attorney Ben Crump at Friday morning’s news conference. Although many residents believed no-knock warrants were banned by Mayor Jacob Frey at the time of the shooting, the City in fact lifted the moratorium in May of 2022.
“Our son’s Constitutional rights were violated on an alleged ban [of] no-knock warrants,” said Amir’s father, Andre Locke. The family is seeking damages to be determined by a jury and for the Minneapolis Police Department to be placed in receivership to ensure its officers are adequately trained and supervised. This comes at a time when the City recently hired a new police chief and is negotiating a court-enforced agreement with the Department of Human Rights to reform policing while awaiting the outcome of a federal civil rights investigation.
At the press conference, Locke’s parents expressed hope that the death of their son will effect change. “My son was a warrior. He showed that even in distress and not being able to see anything, that you open the doors for justice throughout this country,” said Andre Locke. “You will save lives. This is not in vain. You stood for something, Amir.”
It was recently announced that Rep. Ilhan Omar will host Andre Locke as her guest at President Biden’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night. This week, Rep. Omar is also set to introduce her bill to end no-knock warrants, named in honor of Amir Locke.