A Minneapolis police officer fatally shot a man Wednesday who authorities say had a loaded gun in his hand as officers entered a downtown apartment as part of a homicide investigation.
Police identified the man on Thursday as 22-year-old Amir Locke. The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that he had pointed a loaded gun “in the direction of officers.” An incident report said he had two wounds in the chest and one in the right wrist.
A policy body camera video shows an officer using a key to unlock the door and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniform and protective vests, time-stamped at about 6:48 a.m. As they enter, they repeatedly shout, “Police, search warrant!” They also shout “Hands!” and “Get on the ground!” The video shows an officer kick a sectional sofa, and Locke begins to emerge from under a blanket, holding a pistol. Three shots are heard, and the video ends.
The city also included a still from the video showing Locke holding the gun, his trigger finger laid aside the barrel. The top of Locke’s head is barely visible.
Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and prominent community activist whom the mayor appointed last year as co-chair on a community safety work group, said Locke’s family told her Locke was a licensed gun owner with a concealed carry permit, that he didn’t live in the apartment, that police had not been looking for him and that he wasn’t one of three suspects named in the warrant.
Interim Chief Amelia Huffman said in a news conference after the video was released that Locke isn’t named in the warrants. She said it isn’t clear how or whether Locke is connected to the homicide investigation, which she said is under the control of the St. Paul Police Department. That agency has released few details so far and the warrants weren’t publicly available Thursday.
Mayor Jacob Frey said the video “raises about as many questions as it does answers” and said the city was pursuing answers “as quickly as possible and in transparent fashion” through investigations including one by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Huffman said the officer, identified earlier as Mark Hanneman, was in a difficult position.
“The still shot shows the image of the firearm in the subject’s hands, at the best possible moment when the lighting was fully on him. That’s the moment when the officer had to make a split-second decision to assess the circumstances and to determine whether he felt like there was an articulable threat, that the threat was of imminent harm, great bodily harm or death, and that he needed to take action right then to protect himself and his partners,” she said.
Hanneman was hired in 2015. Records released by the city showed three complaints, all closed without discipline, but gave no details. Data on the website of the citizen group Communities United Against Police Brutality showed a fourth complaint, in 2018, that remains open. No details were given.
Locke’s mother, Karen Locke, declined to comment to The Associated Press earlier Thursday, referring questions to the family’s attorney, Ben Crump. The civil rights lawyer has won huge settlements for the families of several people killed by police, including $27 million for the family of George Floyd. Crump and the family, who were shown the video before it was publicly released, planned a news conference Friday.
Huffman said that the city had both knock and no-knock warrants.
Several state lawmakers from Minneapolis had joined Levy Armstrong and others in calling for body camera footage to be made public.
The city released some reports and photographs of the gun recovered from the scene on its website Wednesday.
Minneapolis city leaders and law enforcement officials typically withhold police body camera and dashboard camera videos for weeks or even months, citing ongoing investigations as justification.