No Knock, No Accountability

Madelena Lapinski, Staff Writer

People of color all over the country are forced to confront yet another example of an all too familiar topic: police injustice against minorities. On the morning of Feb. 2, 22-year-old Amir Locke was shot and killed 10 seconds into the commencement of a no-knock warrant in Minneapolis, Mn. Temporarily, no-knock warrants are prohibited and the officer responsible for killing Locke, Mark Hanneman, is on paid administrative leave pending further investigation. Locke and his family are being represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who worked with George Floyd’s family in the same city only two years ago. 

In 2020, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey passed legislation banning unannounced entries. Despite this, St. Paul police requested Minneapolis SWAT to execute a no-knock warrant to enter the apartment of Mekhi Speed, Locke’s 17 year old cousin. Locke was not listed as a suspect on the warrant, yet he was fatally shot before the team could even identify him, as he was covered by a blanket. Body camera footage shows the team discretely opening Speed’s apartment door with a key before entering, then shouting and killing Locke who was resting on the couch, all in 10 incomprehensible seconds. Officer Mark Hanneman fired three fatal shots– two to the chest and one to the wrist– after seeing that Locke was in possession of a gun that his mother later confirmed was purchased legally, responsibly and safely as protection against situations exactly like this one.

In a press conference on Feb. 4, Interim Chief of Police, Amelia Huffman said that it is still uncertain how Locke is related to the case since they have no evidence connecting him to it. This makes his murder even more egregious, considering that even the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) did not name Locke a suspect or even someone merely connected to the case before fatally shooting him. Lawyer and justice activist Nekima Levy Armstrong, who was asked to work as a co-chair on the investigation, recognized and exposed this absurdity during the press conference.

Armstrong was disgusted by the lack of transparency shown by the MPD: “We’re tired of being killed. We’re tired of the cover-ups. We’re tired of the excuses,” she said. 

 According to the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, these excuses that Armstrong references have allowed police violence to become the sixth leading cause of death for young black men. It could be anyone, but it should be no one. 

During the conference, Armstrong said,  “I saw a picture of Amir. He looks like a boy. My son is 17 years old. He has slept on his friends couches for sleepovers. So, we cannot sit here and whitewash this and pretend that it’s okay.”

It is unclear through the shouting whether the officers told Locke to drop the firearm, but what is clear is this: Locke, other than being related to Speed, had no connection to the case. He is a victim of a no-knock warrant, which was issued under questionable and unclear changes in policy made by the city and state legislature. 

Any life lost is a tragedy. He was only 22.