MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The teenage cousin of Amir Locke was sentenced to more than 16 years on Monday for his role in a January murder that prompted police to execute a no-knock warrant on the Minneapolis apartment where Locke was killed by a SWAT team officer.
Mekhi Speed, 18, pleaded guilty in May to aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder while committing a felony — namely aggravated robbery — in connection with the Jan. 10 killing of 38-year-old Otis Elder.
Speed, who was 17 when Elder was shot, told the court during his plea hearing that he had a handgun when he and others tried to rob Elder of drugs in St. Paul, and there was a struggle and a shot was fired. Speed said he had no memory of pulling the trigger and didn't know if his accomplice was armed.
As St. Paul police were investigating Elder’s murder, they identified Speed as a suspect and obtained search warrants for Minneapolis apartments associated with him. Locke, Speed’s cousin, was not a target of the investigation and was not named in the warrants, but he was in one of the apartments as a Minneapolis SWAT team entered the unit without knocking on Feb. 2.
Video shows Locke, 22, who was Black, was shot seconds after police entered the apartment before 7 a.m. He was on a sofa wrapped in a comforter, and video shows he was holding a gun in the moments before he was shot. Police said he was shot after he pointed his gun in the direction of officers, but Locke’s family has questioned that, and said he was startled awake.
Minnesota prosecutors declined to file charges the against Officer Mark Hanneman, saying his use of deadly force was justified. Locke's killing sparked protests and a reexamination of no-knock search warrants.
The Star Tribune reported that with credit for time in jail since his arrest, Speed, who was prosecuted in adult court, is expected to serve slightly more than 10 years in prison and the rest on supervised release.