Parents of Amir Locke, Who Was Fatally Shot by Minneapolis Police: ‘My Heart Ripped Out of My Body’

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Amir Locke's parents participated in a virtual press conference Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. Locke was shot and killed during a Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team no-knock search warrant execution.

Amir Locke's parents participated in a virtual press conference Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. Locke was shot and killed during a Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team no-knock search warrant execution.

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February 4, 2022

Amir Locke was a week away from moving to Dallas, Texas, to pursue his music career and other endeavors when Minneapolis police fatally shot him while executing a search warrant unrelated to Locke, said his parents, who called his death an “execution.”

Karen Wells and Andre Locke said Friday that their son was a respectful and curious entrepreneur who was mentored by relatives who are law enforcement officers with a sheriff’s office in Illinois and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His father said Locke, 22, had a permit to carry a gun for protection, in part because of his job as a DoorDash food delivery driver and the dramatic spike of violent carjackings across the metro area.

Wells called for the firing and criminal prosecution of the officer, Mark Hanneman, who shot her son.

“[Amir Locke] was respectful of law enforcement,” said Wells, who lives in Dallas. “I was overjoyed with Amir as my son. Amir was loved by all, hated by none.”

Read more: Minneapolis Police Insisted on ‘No Knock’ Warrant That Led to Amir Locke’s Shooting Death

Wells and Andre Locke said their son was a deep sleeper, and that police gave him no opportunity to process what was happening when, just before 7 a.m. Wednesday, they used a key to enter the apartment where Locke was sleeping and shot him within seconds. Police did not knock before entering. Officers yelled, “Police, search warrant!” several times as they entered the apartment. Police body camera video released Thursday showed an officer kicking the back of the couch where Locke lay wrapped in a blanket. Locke, who was apparently awoken from his sleep, had a gun in his hand but did not appear to point it at police when he was shot while still hunched over on the couch.

“My heart ripped out of my body … to see his life taken from him,” Andre Locke said of viewing the video before it was released to the public. “They had opportunity to deescalate. They had opportunity to go about it a different way. They had a team over him already.”

Wells initially couldn’t bear to watch the video.

“A mother should never have to see her child executed in that type of manner. I gave birth to Amir — not Minneapolis — I did, and you all took him.”

Wells said Locke was her second-born, whom she always referred to as “my baby boy.” Andre Locke said Locke was the third of his nine children.

“What I’ll miss most about Amir, my baby boy, is his laugh, his beautiful smile,” Wells said. “I’m going to miss just being able to see my son grow into being a man.”

“What I’ll miss most about Amir is that he was a protector of the family,” said Andre Locke. “What I’ll miss about Amir is him telling me, ‘Don’t worry Dad; I’m gonna take care of you. … I’ll take care of all of the family.'”

Wells had recently helped her son start a limited liability company, which he planned to use for his music and work with youth. She said he also expressed an interest in going into real estate with her.

“Amir was all about changing the world and changing the youth and giving them everything they needed,” said Wells. “Now his dreams have been destroyed, but as his mother, I will make sure that as long as I am on this side of this world, I am going to fight every day … to make sure that Amir Rahkare Locke gets justice for being executed by the Minneapolis police.”

His parents said Locke, who was born and raised in the Twin Cities, was law-abiding and had no criminal history. He once attended a march supporting Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old Black teenager who was fatally shot in 2012 by a neighborhood watch coordinator inside a gated community in Florida.

“He did all the things that he was supposed to do,” Andre Locke said. “He wanted to change lives. He wanted to help the youth. That was his plan.”

The family’s attorneys — Ben Crump, Jeff Storms and Tony Romanucci — said Minneapolis police bungled the search warrant and haven’t learned from the 2020 death of George Floyd, who died while his neck was pinned for more than nine minutes under the knee of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

“Amir Locke’s life matters,” Crump said. “Black lives matter. Obviously in Minneapolis, we have to say it louder, because since George Floyd there have been far too many unjust killings in that greater Minneapolis area when … we believed George Floyd would be the tipping point.”

Daunte Wright was fatally shot on April 11, 2021, by then-Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop. Winston Smith was fatally shot on June 3, 2021, in Uptown by a U.S. Marshals Service task force attempting to arrest him. Like Locke, both were Black.

Locke’s parents and their attorneys appeared at a morning new conference via Zoom. His family, Storms and several community members later appeared at an afternoon news conference inside Minneapolis City Hall.

They compared Locke’s death to the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was fatally shot in 2020 by police in Louisville, Kentucky, when they were executing a no-knock warrant related to her ex-boyfriend.

“We have a city that just refuses to learn,” Storms said in the morning. “They barge in before they even identify themselves, and they give Amir no time to save his own life. That’s something we don’t see white citizens encounter, and the fact that it happened in Minneapolis … is beyond tragic. It’s abhorrent.”

Crump criticized the city for the language and tone of its news releases about the shooting, in which the city called Locke a “suspect” and shared pictures of his gun and ammunition, although he was not the subject of the search warrant. Crump called the city’s news releases “erroneous” and compared them to a 2020 city news release about Floyd’s killing that was titled, “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.”

“They, we can only conclude, was trying to assassinate the character of Amir Locke to try to justify their unjustifiable act of executing this no-knock warrant,” Crump said.

Asked if police were at the correct address for the search warrant and whether the tenant was the target of the warrant, Storms said, “At this point, we’re being given very little information.”

Locke’s aunt Linda Tyler said in the afternoon that Locke was at his cousin’s apartment.

“Amir was at his cousin’s house, in the sanctity of his house, and … of course he had his gun at his side,” she said. “Where else was he gonna put it?”

Locke’s cousin Nneka Constantino criticized the police narrative at the afternoon event.

“A lot of times when you see these conferences, the first thing you hear a Black mother say is, ‘He was a good kid, he was this, he was that,’ because we have to humanize him, and we have to overcome what the Minneapolis Police Department has deposited in you day 1, day 2,” Constantino said. “And that is not fair. Shame on you.”

Star Tribune staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report. This story has been updated.


This story is part of a collaboration with the Star Tribune through FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


Chao Xiong, Reporter, Star Tribune

Twitter:

@ChaoStrib

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