February 4, 2022 at 2:58 am
The City of Minneapolis has released body camera footage showing Wednesday’s deadly encounter between a police officer and a 22-year-old man inside a downtown apartment.
A handgun was recovered at the scene of the shooting, police say. The weapon was loaded with with 5.7mm rounds. Locke’s relatives say he was licensed to carry a weapon. He has no criminal history in Minnesota.
The footage, initially released on the city’s YouTube page, is less than a minute long. It shows the same video, or parts of it, at various speeds. At first it’s in slow motion, showing police unlocking a door and entering an apartment. Several officers can be heard yelling “police” and “search warrant” as they step through the doorway with guns drawn.
The officers approach a couch on which Locke is wrapped in a blanket. He sits up and turns toward the officers. He is holding a gun. An instant later, an officer fires three shots, and Locke falls to the floor. The shooting is replayed in super-slow motion. The entire video then plays again in real time. In total, Locke is shot roughly 10 seconds after officers open the apartment door.
Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman and Mayor Jacob Frey held a press conference Thursday night after the footage was released, which quickly turned contentious. Huffman said police went to the building just before 7 a.m. as part of a St. Paul Police Department homicide investigation, in which several suspects were identified, as well as three locations in Minneapolis. Huffman said her department’s SWAT team was asked to execute warrants on three apartments within “the building on Marquette.”
Huffman said both a knock and no-knock warrant were obtained so that the SWAT team could make its best assessment. She said when Officer Hanneman saw Locke holding a gun, he had to make a “split-second decision” on if there was a threat of great bodily harm or death, and to protect himself and his partners. She said his decision would ultimately be examined by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office when it gets the case.
She also said Locke was not named in the original warrant, and it’s “unclear” if he’s connected to St. Paul police’s investigation.
As members of the press and community groups began to confront Huffman on the perceived disconnect between her statements on Wednesday and what’s seen in the video — especially about how she had originally said SWAT team members “loudly and repeatedly” announced their entry into the apartment — civil rights lawyer and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong, who serves on the mayor’s new Community Safety Workgroup, interrupted the press conference. She walked up to the podium next to Huffman and Frey and accused them of changing the narrative.
“When people voted to re-elect you, Jacob, they wanted to see a new leader … they expected a new beginning. That’s why they gave you authority. That’s what we want to see, not cover-ups, not white washing,” Levy Armstrong said. “Amelia, you want to be the chief — act like it. Don’t cover up.”
Huffman and Frey then left the room as other activists continued to shout out questions and statements.
Minneapolis city documents say Hanneman shot Locke twice in the chest and once in the wrist. While officers and medics tried to render aid to Locke, he was pronounced dead at Hennepin Healthcare shortly after.
Huffman said during Thursday’s press conference that St. Paul police’s investigation is still ongoing, and items were collected at the scene that are believed to be of evidentiary value.
Community leaders had earlier identified Locke as the victim, and his relatives posted to social media that he didn’t live there. In the aftermath of the shooting, community groups, state lawmakers and the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called for the body-worn camera footage to be released.
“These past few years have been difficult on the Minneapolis community due to strained relations and lack of trust between the community and the Minneapolis Police Department,” said a letter written by Minneapolis legislators. “We believe that one path to establishing trust between the police department and the community is greater transparency and accountability of police actions. Releasing the bodycam footage of this event, allowing the public to see actions of both officers and Mr. Locke, is essential.”
Mayor Frey’s office said Thursday that it made sure Locke’s family was able to review the body-camera footage prior to it being released.
At a vigil Wednesday night outside the building where the shooting happened, activists questioned why a Black man was fatally shot by police in just seconds. They also wondered why shots were fired inside a multi-unit apartment building, as neighbors could have been hurt.
“Why did they have to endanger every single person in this apartment building?” said activist and artist Toussaint Morrison. “Somebody could have been out in the hallway, somebody could have got shot above.”
Activist groups are calling for Hanneman to be arrested and charged with murder.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting. As the top law enforcement agency in the state, it investigates all police shootings in Minnesota.
Locke’s death is the latest violent incident involving Minneapolis police and Black men. The department has been under scrutiny for years and was put under the national spotlight after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, for which former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder. Chauvin is currently serving a 22-and-a-half-year prison sentence.