Hundreds of protesters on Saturday took to the streets of downtown Minneapolis demanding justice in the fatal police shooting of a young black man, Amir Locke, during a “no-knock” raid on his apartment while serving a search warrant earlier this week.
The boisterous, but peaceful crowd, chanting Locke’s name and “no justice, no peace,” rallied at Government Plaza in Minnesota’s largest city three days after Locke, 22, was shot on his couch by police.
His family and advocates are questioning the credibility of a police department that was widely criticized for its initial portrayal of George Floyd’s death.
Locke, 22, was shot just before 7am on Wednesday after officers quietly entered a downtown apartment with a key, then loudly announced their presence, kicked a sofa where Locke had been under a comforter, then shot him when he showed a gun — all in the span of a few seconds.
Advocates were angered at a police department statement that evening that called Locke a “suspect,” even though police later said that a search warrant did not name Locke as such.
They questioned the same statement for saying the gun was “pointed in the direction of officers” when police body camera footage was less than clear.
They also denounced police for releasing photographs of a gun and bullets, calling that a character assassination of Locke, who they said had a license for the gun.
They highlighted an officer kicking the couch just seconds after entry, which they said likely awoke a deep-sleeping Locke to a confusing assault from men with guns.
His parents, Andre Locke and Karen Wells, called it an “execution.”
The department took similar criticism for its initial representation of Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, when its first statement said Floyd died after a “medical incident during a police interaction.”
Video footage from bystanders quickly told another story — Floyd died while facedown in handcuffs with a police officer’s knee on his neck — and a spokesman said then that the first report relied on a briefing from supervisors who were not on the scene.
After the body camera footage showing the Amir Locke shooting was released on Thursday night, advocates angrily confronted Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman at a news conference.
“This is what I would call the anatomy of a cover-up,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a prominent civil rights attorney whom Frey appointed last year to a community safety work group. “This is unacceptable.”
On Friday, Amir Locke’s aunt, Linda Tyler, attacked parts of the initial police statement.
“He didn’t point the gun,” she told reporters in a news conference at the city hall. “So change the narrative. You guys need to get the story right. You will not smear my nephew’s name.”
Amir Locke’s uncle, Andrew Tyler, said officers clearly startled his nephew awake when they kicked the couch.
“You can’t kick nothing under me and then expect me to act right,” Andrew Tyler said. “What are you looking for? You’re looking to incite someone, you’re looking for a reaction. Not only are you looking for a reaction, you’re looking for time to kill. That’s what he did.”
Andrew Tyler also dismissed the police warnings, saying they were already effectively inside the apartment when they shouted out.
“It’s a lie,” he said. “It’s a lie from the get-go.”
Late on Friday, Frey announced an immediate moratorium on no-knock warrants, as well as a plan to consult with national experts to review the department’s policy.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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