Family of Amir Locke files wrongful-death lawsuit in Minneapolis

By Tyler Clifford

(Reuters) - The family of Amir Locke, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police during a no-knock raid on an apartment last year, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officer who fired the fatal gunshots.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Minnesota on behalf of the parents of the 22-year-old Locke, was announced on Friday by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and other lawyers representing the family.

It accuses the officer, Mark Hanneman, of violating Locke's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, among other claims. The family is seeking compensatory, special and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, according to the complaint.

"Our hearts are broken, and there is nothing in the world that will make that better," his parents, Karen Wells and Andre Locke, said in a statement. "We now fight for justice in his name and hope meaningful change will be his legacy."

The city of Minneapolis said it would review the complaint once it has received the document. The city's police department said it cannot comment on ongoing litigation.

Prosecutors had declined to bring criminal charges in the case.

The Locke case has prompted comparisons with the 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman whom police fatally shot during a no-knock raid on her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment.

Locke was killed on Feb. 2, 2022, by a shot fired by Hanneman, a member of the city's SWAT team, as it executed a warrant in which Locke was not named as a subject. The warrant was part of an investigation into a fatal shooting in neighboring St. Paul.

Police released video footage from the raid the following day.

Locke was sleeping on a couch with a handgun within reach at the time of the raid. The suit alleges that SWAT officers failed to identify themselves and shouted confusing commands upon entering. When Locke reached under a cover for the gun, Hanneman shot him three times, the suit said.

"Hanneman failed to give Amir any such opportunity even though Amir never pointed the handgun at Hanneman or put his finger on the trigger," the suit said.

The suit alleges that Minneapolis had policies that allowed for racial discrimination in policing and the use of excessive force, and claims the city failed to properly train the police force.

The shooting and backlash from the community prompted the city to impose strict limits on the use of no-knock warrants.

(This story has been refiled to say 'files' instead of 'file' in the headline)

(Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)