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Amir Locke's family urges federal, state ban on 'no-knock' search warrants

During a news conference at the Minnesota Capitol, families affected by police violence called on lawmakers to pass a bill to end unannounced police searches.

Amir Locke's family
Amir Locke's mother, Karen Wells, center, along with his father Andre Locke Sr., left, and dozens of relatives of Minnesotans who died in deadly force encounters with police gather at the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, to stump for ending "no-knock" search warrants.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — The family of a 22-year-old man fatally shot by Minneapolis police during an unannounced search took to the state Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 10, to urge state and federal officials to outlaw the use of "no-knock" warrants altogether.

Just over a week after Minneapolis police shot Amir Locke while executing a "no-knock" warrant, Locke's parents Andre Locke Sr. and Karen Wells called on the Biden administration and Minnesota lawmakers to pass the "Amir Locke Law" completely banning search warrants that allow officers to enter a home unannounced.

Body cam footage from the Feb. 2 shooting shows Locke stirring from under a blanket, with a firearm in his right hand, before he was shot by police. Locke had a permit for the weapon, his family said, and he was not named in the search warrants, police said.

"Amir didn't have the intent, the opportunity or the ability to hurt those officers," Andre Locke Sr. said. “We’re demanding justice, we’re demanding that a bill is passed for the no-knock warrants in the name of Amir Locke so we can remember all of those that lost their lives and that it doesn’t happen to any family ever again.”

Minnesota lawmakers in the wake of the 2020 police killing of George Floyd passed a set of rewrites to the state's policing laws that aimed to increase transparency and accountability. But legislators in the divided Capitol opted not to outlaw "no-knock" warrants.

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And Locke's family, along with other police reform advocates at the Capitol, said that Amir Locke's blood was on the Legislature's hands for failing to act on that policy.

"This has to be the last time we bust into Black people's homes and shoot and kill us unjustly," said attorney Ben Crump, who is set to represent Locke's family. "The blood of Amir Locke, the blood of Breonna Taylor should hopefully call for a ban on no-knock warrants all around the country."

Crump said he'd spoken to the Congressional Black Caucus about the legislation and Locke's family had reached out to Minnesota officials about the change.

Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmakers earlier this week proposed limiting unannounced search warrants to be used only in cases where a person's life is in danger. And Republicans said they were open to considering changes if stakeholder groups said they were needed, though they've expressed concerns about outlawing the searches altogether.

Flanked by dozens of family members of Minnesotans killed in deadly force encounters, Andre Locke and Karen Wells said a partial ban wouldn't go far enough. They asked for a total ban so that law enforcement officials couldn't use the unannounced warrants any longer.

"Ban them all," Karen Wells said. "The system failed my son and the system got my son executed, so ban them."

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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