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‘Our son was executed’: Parents of Black man shot dead by US police demand justice

Amir Locke's father Andre Locke speaks at the press conference, with Amir's mother Karen Wells, on the left, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Minneapolis. (Photo by AP)

The parents of a young African-American man shot dead by Minneapolis police say their son was “executed” during a botched raid at a downtown apartment, and vow not to stop fighting until he “gets justice.”

Amir Locke, 22, was shot Wednesday by officers carrying out a search warrant on the apartment in the northern US city, where the police killing of George Floyd in 2020 sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Video of the incident shows an officer using a key to unlock the door and then a SWAT team entering the apartment while shouting, "Police, search warrant!" They open fire as soon as Locke, sleeping on a couch, starts to rise from beneath a blanket, with a gun in his hand.

The total time between the officers' entrance and the shots fired was less than ten seconds. Locke died from his wounds in hospital. An incident report said he had two wounds in the chest and one in the right wrist.

Locke’s parents, Andre Locke and Karen Wells, said on Friday their son was a law-abiding citizen and respectful to all, including to police. Wells said some of their relatives were with law enforcement and they had coached Locke on how to act in encounters with officers because of the danger to “unarmed Black males.”

“My son was executed on 2/2 of 22,” Wells said during a press conference organized by civil rights attorney Ben Crump. “And now his dreams have been destroyed.”

"A mother should never have to see her child executed in that type of manner," she said, adding she would fight until her son "gets justice."

“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 the opportunity to deescalate. They had the opportunity to go about it a different way. They had a team over him already.”

Locke’s parents said their son was startled from his deep sleep when police stormed the apartment and reached for his legal firearm to protect himself. They said Locke had a permit to carry a gun. 

Crump, the attorney, said Locke’s family was “just flabbergasted at the fact that Amir was killed in this way” and disgusted at how the raid was conducted. “They didn’t even give him a chance.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey imposed a moratorium on no-knock warrants on Friday two days after Locke was shot and killed by police. 

He said his office will cooperate with law enforcement to review department policy with the help of two experts who helped devise Breonna’s Law, the ban on no-knock warrants that was imposed in Louisville, Kentucky, following the death of Breonna Taylor in a raid at her home in 2020.

The mayor’s office said that under the moratorium, a no-knock warrant can only be served if there is an imminent threat of harm, and even then, the warrant must be approved by the police chief.

Crump, meanwhile, said it was shocking that Minneapolis police had not learned from Taylor’s death, which led to calls for an end to no-knock warrants nationwide.

“Amir Locke’s life matters,” the attorney 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.”

Locke’s death prompted outrage in Minneapolis, with Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney, calling the way the city is releasing information “the anatomy of a cover-up.”

“No matter what information comes to light, it won’t change the fact that Amir Locke’s life was cut short,” Mayor Frey said in an apparent effort to defend the city's conduct. 


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