Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey faced questions from city leaders on Monday over his policies related to the police department’s practice of no-knock warrants, just days after a city cop fatally shot a man during one of the raids, police have said.
Frey answered dozens of questions during a Minneapolis City Council Policy & Government Oversight Committee “discussion on no-knock warrant policies” on Monday afternoon, when he stressed the duty to honor “the sanctity of life.”
“That means that the overriding goal here that comes from any of these decisions, it’s the preservation of life, period. That means safety of the public, that means safety of our officers, everyone,” he said. “And it shouldn’t take a tragedy to bring us to this point.”
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An associate professor and a student from the University of St. Thomas School of Law attended the meeting, as well as firebrand civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who was one of the lawyers who represented the family of Breonna Taylor. Taylor died when police officers allegedly shot her during a no-knock warrant in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2020.
Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, was shot just after 6:45 a.m. local time on Feb. 2 while SWAT team members with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) were conducting a no-knock warrant at a seventh-floor apartment in a building on South Marquette Avenue near South 12th Street. According to local affiliate FOX 9, Saint Paul Police requested the search warrant as part of an open murder investigation. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Locke was not named in the warrant.
Police said the officers “loudly and repeatedly announced their presence” and entered the apartment, where they encountered Locke about nine seconds later.
Police bodycam footage shows that one uniformed officer used a key to get into the apartment. Locke was wrapped in a blanket and appeared to have been lying down, but moved away from the couch with a gun in his hand moments before one of the officers shot him.
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MPD said one officer fired his duty weapon. Locke was rushed to a local hospital, but he could not be saved.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that his death was a homicide resulting from multiple gunshot wounds.
Locke’s death, which remains under investigation, prompted protests over the weekend that were at times attended by hundreds of people.
On Saturday, protesters held signs and sang chants as they marched through the city. The next night, a roughly 50-car caravan drove through the city calling for justice before some convened in front of what was reported to be the home of MPD Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman.
On Friday, Frey’s office announced a moratorium on no-knock warrants. Frey was asked during Monday’s meeting about his office’s review and revisions of the policy.
When questioned about how long his office expects to take to review the policy, he said he could not yet give an answer “simply because I don’t want to rush a policy that we need to get right.”
“There’s an ongoing tension I recognize of doing things quickly and getting them right, and I feel strongly that we need to err on the side of doing this right,” he said, “because as we’ve seen, this is a very complex policy itself.”
The mayor said it is up to the courts and the judiciary to review the facts in each search warrant application to determine whether to grant the request.
“It is up to the court and the judge themselves as to whether they understand the requisite information and the requisite danger to necessitate a warrant in the first place,” he said. “That determination would in fact be made on a case-by-case basis.”
Frey’s office created a no-knock warrant policy in November 2020 that required officers to announce themselves even when servicing no-knock warrants. Friday’s moratorium barred the issuance and execution of such warrants altogether.
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The mayor also faced questions during the meeting about his decision not to ban no-knock warrants outright, though he noted the policy is still under review.
He said he would be interested in bringing the discussion of the policy to a public forum.