MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - After more than 36 hours of unanswered questions and increased calls for transparency, the mayor of Minneapolis has released body camera video of the police shooting and killing of an armed man in a downtown apartment Wednesday.
TRIGGER WARNING: This video is graphic and is not suitable for young people or sensitive viewers. Viewers, please use your own discretion.
Minneapolis Mayor Frey and Interim Police Chief Huffman held a news conference shortly after the public release of the body camera video Thursday night. They began by reinforcing their commitment to transparency, but in the end, the chief and the mayor took less than five questions from the local news media and walked out after Nekima Levy Armstrong, co-chair of the mayor’s public safety work group, and other activists confronted the two.
A member of the Minneapolis SWAT team shot and killed an armed 22-year-old Black man who was not named in the search warrant police were serving at the downtown apartment building, police said. The shooting happened just before 7 a.m. Wednesday at Bolero Flats. The officer was later identified as Mark Hanneman, whose records show he has been in law enforcement since 2015. Hanneman has since been placed on paid administrative leave.
Community members and police reports have identified the man killed as Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man who reportedly had a permit to carry. Locke's parents, who spoke with media Friday, said their son was a deep sleeper and that he was startled when officers kicked the couch that morning and did what any reasonable law-abiding citizen would do in that situation. They remember him as their son who was funny, loved to learn and wanted to help youth.
Photo of 22-year-old Amir Locke, provided by Locke family attorneys
The Office of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said around 3 p.m. Thursday that the mayor was committed to making sure the family of Amir Locke sees the body camera video before it was released publicly.
"He is working with the MPD and BCA to ensure that the footage is released as quickly as possible without compromising the BCA’s ability to collect evidence and overall integrity of the investigation," the mayor's office said in the statement.
In Minneapolis, the mayor makes the final call about releasing body camera footage, not the police department. The police shooting of Thurman Blevins in June 2018 marked the first time any elected official in Minnesota released body cam footage before BCA investigation was done.
What the body camera video shows
The graphic body camera video of the fatal police shooting was released to the public around 7 p.m. Thursday. The video is 54 seconds total, in which the first 29 seconds was edited in slow motion, the next nine seconds was edited to be extra slowed, and the last 15 seconds shows the video in real-time.
Here is a description of what happens in the video for those who prefer not to watch it:
The video starts with the Minneapolis SWAT team member inserting a key into the keyhole to unlock the apartment door around 6:48 a.m. Wednesday.
Police did not announce themselves until after opening the apartment door, which contradicts what Interim Chief Huffman said in Wednesday afternoon's news conference – "They loudly and repeatedly announced ‘police search warrant’ before they crossed the threshold into the apartment and ongoing as they made entry."
The officer wearing the body camera opens the door and backs up, allowing three officers, wearing MPD uniforms and tactical gear, to enter the apartment first. MPD did not say which of the eight SWAT team members' body camera video was released to the public.
As the officers enter the apartment, several of them shout "police, search warrant" as they approach Locke, who is wrapped underneath in a blanket on the couch. An officer kicked the couch, and Locke starts coming out from under the blanket while holding a handgun. The video shows he was armed, however, it's not clear in the video if the gun was "pointed in the direction of officers" like MPD wrote in the initial news release.
Officers are heard yelling "hands, hands, show me your hands" and "get on the ground, get on the f***ing ground" before Officer Hanneman fired three shots at Locke, who was still wrapped in a blanket. Locke falls to the ground as the video ends.
Minneapolis SWAT Team enters a downtown apartment early Wednesday morning. Officers were serving a search warrant related to a St. Paul homicide investigation. The man they shot and killed was not named on the search warrant.
Attorneys: Man killed wasn't on search warrant, legally possessed firearm
The Locke family has retained civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Jeff Storms, the attorneys who represented the family of George Floyd.
"Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans," Attorney Crump wrote in a statement. "This is yet another example of why we need to put an end to these kinds of search warrants so that one day, Black Americans will be able to sleep safely in their beds at night. We will continue pushing for answers in this case so that Amir’s grieving family can get the closure they deserve."
Police did not initially clarify if Locke was connected to the search warrant until Thursday evening's news conference where Interim Chief Huffman confirmed Locke was not named in the search warrant, and she said they're still looking into how and/or if he was connected to the St. Paul homicide investigation.
The victim's family attorneys said Thursday afternoon that all available information reflects that Locke was not the subject of the search warrant and that he legally possessed a firearm at the time of his death.
Calls for transparency
After the deadly shooting occurred, activist groups, community members, and public officials made calls for the body camera footage to be released.
A group of Minnesota legislators say they sent a letter to Mayor Frey and Interim Police Chief Huffman calling for the release of body camera footage.
"These past few years have been difficult on the Minneapolis community due to strained relations and lack of trust between the community and the Minneapolis Police Department," the letter states. "We believe that one path to establishing trust between the police department and the community is greater transparency and accountability of police actions. Releasing the bodycam footage of this event, allowing the public to see actions of both officers and Mr. Locke, is essential."
State Rep. Esther Agbaje, DFL-Minneapolis, lives in the building where the shooting happened and is among those calling for the body cam video to be released. She told FOX 9 she was prepping for a virtual meeting, working from home, when the incident occurred. The shooting did not take place on her floor.
"I think the hard part is the narrative can spiral, right? People can start to say things that may or may not be true. So I think it really just behooves all of us to make sure we're dealing with the correct information. That's all we're asking for – we want to make sure that the confirmed information is out there," Rep. Agbaje said Thursday afternoon.
Minnesota Rep. Esther Agbaje, DFL-Minneapolis, lives in the building where the shooting happened and is among those calling for the body cam video to be released.
Police accountability activists from Communities Against Police Brutality held a press conference at 5 p.m. Thursday to denounce the lack of transparency throughout the process in an effort receive answers from city officials and the MPD.
Among the demands, the group wants to see the arrest warrant application, receive communication from the MPD in a timelier manner (and with more structure), and hear the motives behind releasing gun and ammunition images to the public prior to officer bodycam footage – an attempt they allege to vilify the victim’s character.
Police shoot, kill armed man while serving search warrant
Huffman says the Minneapolis SWAT team was serving a search warrant to assist the St. Paul Homicide Division. Authorities have not said which investigation the search warrant was connected to.
According to the MPD incident report, the SWAT team went to two apartments on the 14th floor before the one on the seventh floor. Huffman says officers gained entrance to the apartment by using a fob, and after "loudly" announcing their presence, entered the seventh floor apartment. The bodycam video released the following day did not show officers announcing themselves prior to opening the door.
The Minneapolis Police Department says about nine seconds "into the entry," they "encountered" a man holding a handgun "pointed in the direction of officers." Mark Hanneman, a member of the eight-person SWAT team, fired at the man, striking him three times – twice in the chest and once on the right wrist, according to the incident report. Huffman later said that the man killed was not named in the original search warrant.
MPD says officers carried the injured man down to the lobby to meet paramedics, who then took him to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he later died.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office released the identity of the man killed Friday afternoon. His name was Amir Rahkare Locke. The medical examiner's report states the 22-year-old Black man's time of death was at 7:01 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death was homicide.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is now handling the investigation of this police shooting. It is typical for the BCA to take over cases if officers fired shots.
All public data related to this case is available for viewing here.