Minneapolis Limits No-Knock Warrants As Prosecutors Decide Cop Can’t Be Charged For Killing Amir Locke During A No-Knock Raid

from the cops-no-longer-able-to-create-the-danger-they-need-to-justify-killing-someone dept

On February 2, 2022, Minneapolis PD officers executed a no-knock raid on an apartment. Officer Mark Hanneman then summarily executed Amir Locke within seconds of his entry into the apartment.

The Minneapolis PD suggested Amir Locke had plenty of time to realize police officers were in the apartment. The body cam time stamps showed something completely different: officers making entry at 06:48:02 and Hanneman opening fire at 06:48:11.

It didn’t have to go this way. The Minneapolis PD was carrying out a warrant obtained by the St. Paul Police Department. The warrant obtained by the St. Paul PD was a regular warrant: one in which officers would have knocked and announced their presence. The Minneapolis PD decided it didn’t want to handle it that way and sought permission to perform a no-knock entry. When Locke reached for the weapon he legally owned, he was killed. Given the time stamps on the body cam recording, it would have been impossible for Locke to rouse himself from his sleep and be fully cognizant of the situation. The officers created the danger that allowed Officer Hanneman to kill Amir Locke.

But that’s the way the MPD does business. The Star Tribune reported that the MPD preferred to use no-knock warrants, even though those are supposed to be limited to extreme cases necessitating unannounced entry. According to the Star Tribune, since the beginning of 2022, the MPD had obtained 13 no-knock warrants and only 12 regular search warrants.

The MPD — which cannot seem to stop killing or steer clear of controversywon’t have this option in the future. Or, at least, it won’t be able to maintain its absurdly high no-knock/regular warrant ratio.

The new policy prohibits Minneapolis police officers from applying for no-knock search warrants, which would allow them to enter a location without first knocking or announcing their presence. It also prohibits them from asking other agencies to “execute” a no-knock search warrant on their behalf, or executing them for other agencies.

There are, of course, exceptions to the new rule.

Officers can still apply for “knock and announce” search warrants — which would generally require them to wait 20 seconds before entering a location during daylight hours and 30 seconds before entering during nighttime hours (between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.). Those requirements, however, can be waived if there are “exigent circumstances.” The city says officers may enter immediately “to prevent imminent harm or to provide emergency aid,” to prevent “imminent destruction or removal of evidence” (except narcotics), to prevent “imminent escape of a suspect” or when in “hot pursuit.”

So, not much of a change, really. This appears to be mostly how the MPD handled things before the policy change. The only thing that might limit the use of no-knock warrants in the future is the exemption of narcotics from the list of evidence that must be no-knocked to save from “immediate destruction and removal.” And, according to an MPD spokesperson, officers will still be able to make their own discretion to convert regular warrants to no-knock warrants during warrant service if they decide the unfolding situation can be described as exigent.

The more useful portion of the new policy requires the PD to develop and maintain a “public-facing, online dashboard” that tracks forced entries performed by officers, including no-knock warrants. This dashboard will include demographic info, time/date data, and whether or not officers deployed force against the residence or the residents.

Unfortunately, the Minneapolis PD won’t learn much from the Amir Locke tragedy. Officers seeking no-knock warrants may be slightly inconvenienced by the new rules governing no-knock warrants, but the policy, as written, doesn’t seem capable of deterring abuse of these warrants. And the officer who decided Amir Locke was a threat worth killing less than ten seconds after crossing the apartment threshold won’t be facing anything more than public damnation.

In a joint statement from the offices of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the prosecutors noted that Locke “should be alive today, and his death is a tragedy,” but that “the state would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of MInnesota’s use-of-deadly force statute.” 

Unfortunately, this is how the law works. The MPD raid team told itself (and a judge) the situation would be dangerous — dangerous enough to justify an unannounced entry. The moment officers saw a person with a gun in their hand, the killing was lawful. In essence, the PD had its cake and ate it, too. It created the danger and then exploited it. When cops create their own danger, the public loses 100% of time, as Scott Greenfield points out:

Officer Hanneman was not unreasonable in believing that the sleeping guy in an apartment being raided under a judicially authorized no-knock warrant presented an imminent risk of death, and so he shot first and killed him. This is what the law permits, making a choice favoring police over the non-cop when the decision is made whether to pull the trigger. This situation is untenable. The outcome is bad. What it was not is criminal.

If the new rules for no-knock warrants even slightly reduce the MPD’s use of them, it will save lives. And that’s worth it, even if it’s clear the new no-knock rules are mostly window dressing that look like reform but hardly change anything.

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Comments on “Minneapolis Limits No-Knock Warrants As Prosecutors Decide Cop Can’t Be Charged For Killing Amir Locke During A No-Knock Raid”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Honestly at this point ‘no knock warrant’ might as well be renamed to ‘We really want to kill someone’ warrants. Bust into a house causing the homeowner to be startled and if they do anything other than respond in a perfectly calm and submissive manner presto, instant justification to open fire.

As for the idea that there was no criminal act involved in gunning someone down on the spot seconds after bursting into their house that’s the sort of thing likely to cause people to see the legal system as just as much of a problem as the police. When you create the situation where you want to claim that you ‘feared for your life’ self-defense should go right out the window and only apply to the other person.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: as far

as far as I understand the Locke situation.
the Cops were looking for a relative there.
Those inside Didnt want that person there.

But how could the police do something different?
Cover all entrances/exits?(with the man power they had, they could have.
Cover the door to protect themselves from gun fire. Fairly easy.
Better Armor for the front man Entering the location?? So he dont need to worry Allot about being shot? Thats available.

If this were a Drug raid, does it REALLY matter if they Flush the drugs? Think about it for a Moment. If they get flushed, they loose the money they could of had. If they are raided every week or 2, that will add up REAL fast.
Then we get the runners. Do you know who they are?? Then WHY chase them? Meet them at home. Why shoot 17 times in a public area to STOP A CAR?? If you think the car was stolen, THEN KEEP THE CAR as he runs away. ITS THE CAR you want.

Arijirija says:

Bad moon rising

Some time ago – perhaps fifteen years, I’ve forgotten – there was an interesting little article in a newspaper which said that the American soaps were having a salutary effect on policing in various third-world countries, because people being arrested were starting to ask about their Miranda rights, and to have their rights read to them. Which of course inevitably put the police in those situations on the back foot, which made life a little easier for the arrestee, and a better outcome in general.

Fast forward, and some guy gets shot while sleeping by a cop who’s just busted into his place? No time to demand to be read his rights. No time for anything.

All we need now is for the police to be regularly issued general warrants … combine a general warrant with a no-knock warrant and a trigger-happy group of cops, and you can guess the rest. “What was he shot for?” “Asking his rights.” “You felt in danger of your life, is that true?” “Yes, judge, I swear I felt in danger of my life. He had his hands in the air, and was asking for his rights to be read to him … and I can’t read.”

mechtheist (profile) says:

“It created the danger and then exploited it.”
From wiki: “Kraska estimated 60,000–70,000 no-knock or quick-knock raids were conducted by local police annually, the majority of which were looking for marijuana.”

A broader perspective would say the war on drugs created the situation that has been exploited by law enforcement for decades now. It’s utterly sickening that folks die for marifuckingjuana possession laws, soon to be eliminated.

“impossible for Locke to rouse himself from his sleep”
Even when the cops announce before breaking in, it’s almost impossible that anyone sleeping would hear that, they’d wake to a home invasion and have every right to shoot anyone breaking in, at least in any stand your ground state, but I don’t know enough about other states. I’m betting the cops wouldn’t care about that nor the NRA gun nut types would support anyone who shot a cop, at least not openly.

“to prevent “imminent destruction or removal of evidence” (except narcotics)”
If that’s part of the new law, it’s a real positive step forward. No-knock warrants are ridiculously dangerous to ALL involved for fucking drug possession cases, NO ONE should die for such BS. 5 decades of this insanity, are we possibly nearing the end of it? Thinking about the defense dept after the cold war, the expected peace dividend in its budget turned into increases as we ramped up the war of terror, er, excuse me, the war on terror. What new bogeyman will they fabricate for the DEA if we got sane on drugs?

Wyrm (profile) says:


they’d wake to a home invasion and have every right to shoot anyone breaking in, at least in any stand your ground state

Not even that much. We’re talking “castle doctrine” here, which is even more widespread. And slightly more justified.

“Stand your ground” basically expands “castle doctrine” to the public space, which is absolutely horrifying.

Naughty Autie says:

“[O]fficers making entry at 06:48:02 and Hanneman opening fire at 06:48:11.”

Even if Amir Locke was neurotypical, nine seconds isn’t enough time to process who’s entering your home on a no-knock warrant, and it would have taken up to twice as long if he was neurodivergent. I’m with Tim Cushing on this.

Anonymous Coward says:


I agree with the premise of LEOs creating their own danger.
I disagree with the idea that not much has changed because with the removal of narcotics as a qualifier for the NKW there are FAR fewer reasons to request/grant/conduct one except for actual public danger things like armed felons/weapons/kidnaps/person in danger. War on drugs has literally been the stupidest thing the first world has ever dreamed up and funded for the past 50 years…..

Anonymous Coward says:

How many more people need to be killed in their homes before we remove no-knock warrants completely? If the target of a warrant destroys evidence, you can go after them for destruction of evidence, or if the case warrants such attention you can pay to perform extensive analysis. But I’ve yet to see a bevy of no-knock warrants that allow recovery of murder evidence from a person trying to destroy said evidence – certainly nowhere near as many as no-knock warrants whose execution ends with the unnecessary killing of a person.

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