Minnesota prosecutors declined to file charges Wednesday against a Minneapolis police SWAT team officer who fatally shot Amir Locke while executing an early morning no-knock search warrant in February, reports the Associated Press. Locke, 22, who was Black, was sleeping on a couch in his cousin’s apartment when authorities entered it without knocking as part of an investigation into a homicide in neighboring St. Paul. Prosecutors said body camera video showed Locke pointing a gun at officer Mark Hanneman, justifying his use of deadly force. Locke’s family argued that Locke was startled awake and that he grabbed for a gun he was licensed to carry. Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, said she was disgusted by the decision. At a news conference with attorney Ben Crump and civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton, she vowed to keep up pressure on Minneapolis city leaders.
Alluding to Hanneman, she said, “This is not over. You may have been found not guilty, but in the eyes of me, being the mother who I am, you are guilty.” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, whose offices reviewed the case, said Locke might never have been shot if not for the no-knock warrant. They said there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hanneman violated the state statute governing when police can use deadly force. “It would be unethical for us to file charges in a case in which we know that we will not be able to prevail because the law does not support the charges,” Ellison said. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey this week formalized a new policy requiring officers to knock and wait before entering a residence, with limited exceptions. Some lawmakers are seeking a statewide ban on no-knock warrants, except in rare circumstances.