MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, with assistance from Attorney General Keith Ellison, has declined to bring charges against Mark Hanneman, the Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed Amir Locke while serving a no-knock search warrant in February.
Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County Attorney, wrote there is "insufficient admissible evidence" to file criminal charges in the case.
"Specifically, the State would be unable to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of Minnesota’s use-of-deadly-force statute that authorizes the use of force by Officer Hanneman. Nor would the State be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a criminal charge against any other officer involved in the decision-making that led to the death of Amir Locke," Freeman wrote.
Hanneman returned to work on Feb. 28 after being placed on administrative leave after the Feb. 2 deadly shooting, according to a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department.
"Officer Hanneman was assigned to a role that is the best fit for the needs of the department and his service to the City of Minneapolis. That assignment does not include SWAT," MPD Public Information Officer Garrett Parten wrote to FOX 9.
Records show Hanneman began working in law enforcement in 2015.
In the charging decision announcement, Freeman and Ellison suggested to policymakers they should reconsider using no-knock warrants.
"Amir Locke’s life mattered," they wrote. "He should be alive today, and his death is a tragedy. Amir Locke was not a suspect in the underlying Saint Paul criminal investigation nor was he named in the search warrants. Amir Locke is a victim. This tragedy may not have occurred absent the no-knock warrant used in this case."
"Any time law enforcement interacts with the public, all parties should be able to go home safely. No-knock warrants are highly risky and pose significant dangers to both law enforcement and the public, including to individuals who are not involved in any criminal activity. The fact that it is standard practice for paramedics to stand by at the scene when no-knock warrants are executed speaks to the foreseeably violent nature of this law enforcement tool."
Just before 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, the Minneapolis SWAT team entered apartment 701 at the Bolero Flats in downtown Minneapolis to execute a no-knock search warrant in connection with a January homicide in St. Paul.
According to the Minneapolis Police Department incident report, the SWAT team went to two apartments on the 14th floor before entering the unit on the seventh and "loudly" announcing their presence. Body camera video released after the shooting shows they did not announce themselves until after they entered the apartment.
As they entered the apartment, body camera video shows officers shouted "police, search warrant" as they approached Locke, who was wrapped underneath a blanket on the couch. An officer kicked the couch, and Locke starts coming out from under the blanket while holding a handgun.
"Video shows Mr. Locke under the blanket holding a firearm that was initially held parallel to the ground before being dropped to about a 45-degree angle, then being raised again in the direction of Officer Hanneman," Freeman and Ellison wrote.
Officers are heard yelling "hands, hands, show me your hands" and "get on the ground, get on the f***ing ground" before Officer Hanneman fired three shots at Locke, who was still wrapped in a blanket. Locke falls to the ground as the video ends.
Freeman and Ellison wrote that Locke's actions constituted a "specifically articulable threat."
"Officer Hanneman perceived that Mr. Locke’s movements and production of a firearm presented a threat of death or great bodily harm that was reasonably likely to occur and to which the officers had to respond without delay," the attorneys wrote.