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Protesters call for Minneapolis police chief's resignation after Amir Locke killing

The killing of Amir Locke has brought protesters back to the streets in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered by police less than two years ago.
Nathan Howard
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The killing of Amir Locke has brought protesters back to the streets in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered by police less than two years ago.

Updated February 8, 2022 at 2:53 PM ET

As protesters across Minneapolis continue to demand justice for Amir Locke, local authorities have announced that an arrest has been made in a connected case.

Minneapolis police last week shot and killed Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, while executing a no-knock search warrant in connection to a homicide investigation that Locke was not involved in. A suspect in that investigation, a 17-year-old male, was arrested on Monday, police confirmed via social media.

The teen has been identified by MPR News as Locke's cousin. The youth was booked at the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center on second-degree murder in relation to the Jan. 10 killing of Otis Elder, police said.

Locke's cousin is expected to be charged later Tuesday, after which the search warrants related to the case are likely to be made public, according to the police statement. Locke was not named in the warrant that ended in his murder.

Body camera footage shows a SWAT team entering an apartment just before 7 a.m. Wednesday without knocking. Instead, officers used a key and shouted "police search warrant."

In the video, police approach a couch where Locke appears to be asleep under a blanket, then Locke can be seen stirring under the blanket and holding a gun. Police open fire, about nine seconds after they entered the apartment, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

Authorities say Locke was not the subject of the search warrant, which was tied to a St. Paul homicide investigation. Locke's family says he was a food delivery driver and had a permit to carry the gun.

"Amir Locke's life mattered," Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement to NPR. "He was only 22 years old and had his whole life ahead of him." Ellison says his office is working with the county attorney's office to review if criminal charges will be brought in the case against officers.

The killing has caused outrage nationwide and especially in Minneapolis, where the police murder of George Floyd less than two years ago exposed deep distrust between the community and law enforcement.

Over the weekend, protesters marched through downtown Minneapolis to call for justice for Locke.

On Monday, demonstrators arrived at City Hall and demanded accountability for those involved; NBC News reports the group included many Black mothers and women. Activists are calling for the firing or resignation of interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman and officer Mark Hanneman, who activists say shot and killed Locke.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has instituted a moratorium on no-knock warrants while the city reviews the department's policies regarding the controversial law enforcement tool.

In an announcement, the mayor's office said Minneapolis police officers will only be able to execute warrants after they knock, announce their presence and wait a reasonable amount of time before entering. Executing a no-knock warrant under the moratorium requires "an imminent threat of harm to an individual or the public and then the warrant must be approved by the Chief."

In March 2020, emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor was killed by police during a no-knock warrant in Louisville, Ky., drawing national attention to the practice and other killings of Black people by white people. Kentucky convened a task force to study the use of search warrants, which unveiled a series of recommended reforms at the end of last year. No-knock warrants have been banned by Louisville's Metro Council. Despite nationwide outrage and demonstrations, no officer has been charged in Taylor's death.

This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nell Clark
Nell Clark is an editor at Morning Edition and a writer for NPR's Live Blog. She pitches stories, edits interviews and reports breaking news. She started in radio at campus station WVFS at Florida State University, then covered climate change and the aftermath of Hurricane Michael for WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla. She joined NPR in 2019 as an intern at Weekend All Things Considered. She is proud to be a member of NPR's Peer-to-Peer Trauma Support Team, a network of staff trained to support colleagues dealing with trauma at work. Before NPR, she worked as a counselor at a sailing summer camp and as a researcher in a deep-sea genetics lab.
Sharon Pruitt-Young