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Amir Locke’s parents call for the abolition of no-knock warrants

By Travis Caldwell, CNN

The parents of Amir Locke, who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police during the execution of a no-knock warrant, called for the abolition of the practice at a news conference Thursday.

Locke was shot and killed in the early hours of February 2 by police conducting a no-knock warrant on a residence. Locke, who police say was not named in any of the search warrants, was seen on police bodycam footage apparently asleep and shown to be holding a gun upon awakening.

Locke’s father, Andre, and mother, Karen Wells, spoke to reporters in the Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul, Minnesota, calling for federal and state bans on no-knock warrants. They were joined by relatives of other people who have died at the hands of police, as well as civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Locke’s family.

Locke’s parents called on President Joe Biden to push a national ban on such warrants in the name of their son.

“All I have is the memories… and pictures,” Wells said. “I should not have to bury a 22-year-old child … I am going to be the voice of all the mothers in the Twin Cities who do not have a voice.”

Andre Locke said, referring to the police footage of the fatal shooting, “We all saw. What’s wrong with accountability? What’s wrong with transparency? What’s wrong with saying, ‘we messed up’?”

Several speakers invoked the name of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in a botched raid in 2020 that began with the issuing and serving of a no-knock warrant in Louisville, Kentucky. Crump’s law firm had said Taylor’s mother would attend Thursday’s news conference, but she was not present.

“The no-knock warrant is what caused Amir’s death,” his father, Andre Locke, told CNN’s Omar Jimenez on Monday.

Locke’s death is the latest example of such warrants ending in tragedy, with law enforcement making split-second decisions that result in the loss of life.

In November 2020, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and then-Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced they were instituting a policy that required officers to announce their presence and purpose before entering a building — except in special circumstances.

The day after the shooting, interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said at a news conference that “both a no-knock and a knock search warrant were obtained for those locations so that the SWAT team could assess the circumstances and make the best possible decision about entry.”

At a City Council committee meeting Monday seeking clarity in the wake of Locke’s death, Frey said he holds himself accountable for using language indicating the city had banned no-knock warrants.

On Friday, he imposed an immediate moratorium on the request and execution of no-knock warrants, but his announcement noted they could still be carried out if there is “an imminent threat of harm to an individual or the public and then the warrant must be approved by the Chief.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called for changes in the way search warrants are executed in the state.

“Minnesota made strides last year, passing statewide restrictions on the use of no-knock warrants,” he said Friday, “but the events leading to the death of Amir Locke illustrate the need for further reform.”

Some jurisdictions have taken action

An examination of whether no-knock warrants are effective was part of a larger conversation over policing reforms spurred by Taylor’s death.

The 26-year-old ER medical technician was shot and killed by Louisville officers in her home in March 2020 as police served a no-knock warrant.

A grand jury failed to indict any officers in her death. One officer, Brett Hankison, was indicted for blindly firing into a neighbor’s apartment during the shooting. He has pleaded not guilty and trial proceedings are ongoing.

Her death led to changes among multiple law enforcement agencies that ended or limited the use of no-knock warrants.

In June 2020, the Louisville Metro Council banned no-knock warrants after unanimously passing an ordinance called “Breonna’s Law.”

The ordinance regulates how search warrants are carried out and mandates the use of body cameras during searches. All Louisville Metro Police Department officers are to be equipped with an operating body camera while carrying out a search.

Other cities such as Indianapolis, Indiana, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, banned the practice in 2020.

Last April, Kentucky state lawmakers passed legislation that limited — but did not outright ban — no-knock warrants. Instead, they would be reserved for situations that could be considered violent or an emergency, such as a kidnapping.

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said on CNN’s “New Day” last year that while such policing reforms were appreciated, it did not provide full justice for her daughter’s death.

“They don’t help Breonna,” she said, “but the goal is for there not to be another Breonna so you know their steps moving forward to make sure, hopefully, ensure this won’t happen again.”

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Steve Forrest, Ray Sanchez, Kristina Sgueglia, Taylor Romine, Rebekah Riess and Theresa Waldrop contributed to this report.

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