Apr 7, 2022 - News

Amir Locke's family and activists vow to push for change after charging decision

karen wells

Karen Wells, the mother of Amir Locke, speaks during a press conference at the Times Square Sheraton hotel on Wednesday in New York City. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Prosecutors' decision to pass on charging the Minneapolis officer who fatally shot Amir Locke during an early morning raid on a downtown apartment is fueling fresh calls to end the use of no-knock warrants.

  • "This is not over," Locke's mother, Karen Wells, told reporters Wednesday, as she and national civil rights leaders called for a nationwide ban.

Driving the news: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a joint statement Wednesday that while Locke "should be alive today, and his death is a tragedy," there isn't "sufficient" evidence to pursue criminal charges.

The big picture: Lawmakers, activists and Locke's family say his death underscores the need to ban the tactic and pursue other changes aimed at curbing in-custody deaths.

  • Ellison said that while the law didn't allow for criminal charges, the situation shows the need to change police practices to prevent similar deaths in the future.

Flashback: Locke, 22, was shot just seconds after an MPD swat team stormed an apartment in February, conducting a search connected to a St. Paul murder investigation. Video footage suggests Locke had been asleep on the couch.

  • Police officials have said the officer who fatally shot Locke made a split-second decision after seeing a gun in his hand.
  • Locke's parents have said he legally purchased the firearm to protect himself while he worked as a delivery driver.

What they're saying: "We have to get rid of these no-knock warrants because if it can happen to Amir, it can happen to Breonna Taylor, it can happen to your children, too," Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing Locke's family, told reporters at the National Action Network conference in New York Wednesday.

  • Locke's mother, meanwhile, vowed Wednesday to continue to seek justice on her son's behalf, saying she's "disgusted with the city of Minneapolis."

What's happening: Under a new policy in Minneapolis that takes effect Friday, officers must announce themselves at least 20 seconds before entering a premises to execute a search warrant. Exceptions will still be made for high-risk circumstances.

  • Similar proposals have been introduced by Minnesota Democrats at the state and federal level.
  • "To simply remove this as an option would be safer overall, for all Minnesotans, whether they're our law enforcement officers or residents," said state Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL-St. Paul), who is sponsoring a state-level ban. "It's a tool that no longer serves the purpose that we originally intended."

Yes, but: The proposal is unlikely to move in the GOP-controlled Senate, and Hollins said she's not sure her bill will even get a House floor vote given concerns from some fellow Democrats.

What to watch: The charging decision might not be the end of the legal action surrounding Locke's death.

  • The Rev. Al Sharpton said Wednesday that he will petition the U.S. Department of Justice to open a federal investigation into the case.

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