Feb. 4—St. Paul police sought a "knock and announce" warrant for an apartment in Minneapolis during a homicide investigation, but Minneapolis police said they would not carry out the warrant unless it was "no knock," law enforcement sources said Friday.
A Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Amir Locke, 22, while serving search warrants on Wednesday morning. Police said Locke pointed a loaded gun "in the direction of officers." Locke's parents said Friday that the Minneapolis SWAT team had woken him; they said he was law-abiding, with no criminal record, and had a permit to carry a gun.
Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman said Locke isn't named in the warrants. She said it isn't clear how or whether Locke is connected to the St. Paul police homicide investigation.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced a moratorium Friday on no-knock warrants. The shooting had prompted some Minnesota legislators and advocacy groups to call for a statewide ban on such warrants.
WARRANTS FILED UNDER SEAL
The St. Paul homicide investigation is not connected to this week's fatal shooting of a man on the city's West Side, but police have otherwise not said which homicide it involves.
There are several search warrants in the case and, "to protect the integrity of the investigation, the warrants have been filed under seal, which is common practice in homicide investigations," St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said in a Friday statement.
The warrants will be kept under seal, in accordance with state law, "until the court directs otherwise," Linders said.
A Hennepin County judge signed the search warrants and St. Paul police asked Minneapolis police to carry out three of them an a downtown Minneapolis apartment building.
No one had been arrested in the St. Paul homicide as of Friday afternoon and police are not releasing additional information about the case "in order to protect evidence, witnesses and the investigators' ability to locate the person or people involved in the case," Linders said.
"The apartment complex management team complied with the court orders and provided access to the MPD officers," Linders said. "When law enforcement agencies have a need to serve a search warrant outside of their jurisdiction, it's common practice for them to request assistance from other agencies. This is done for several reasons, including availability of resources, knowledge of the addresses being searched and familiarity of the area and community. Each agency has its own protocols and policies for serving search warrants. The agency responsible for serving the warrant determines what tactics that will be used."
After Minneapolis police told St. Paul police that they would not execute the search warrant unless it was "no knock," St. Paul rewrote it and a judge signed off on it, according to law enforcement sources. A Minneapolis police spokesman said Friday he couldn't comment.
St. Paul City Council Member Mitra Jalali said Friday that the St. Paul police department "must publicly answer for their role and decision-making in the process."
"If our own department policy makes clear SPPD is not to carry out or use 'no knock' warrants, why did SPPD request one and entrust MPD to execute it?," she said in a statement. "... Both departments must be held accountable and share with the public the decision-making process to pursue and facilitate a no-knock warrant outside the scope of the original."
GOVERNOR: 'NEED FOR FURTHER REFORM'
Body camera video released Thursday showed an officer using a key to unlock the downtown Minneapolis apartment door and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniform and protective vests. As they enter, they repeatedly shout, "Police, search warrant!" They also shout "Hands!" and "Get on the ground!"
The video shows an officer kick a sectional sofa, and Locke, who was wrapped in a blanket on the sofa, begins to move, holding a pistol. Three shots are heard, and the video ends.
Frey said he and the police department will work with national experts to review and suggest revisions for search warrant policy while the no-knock moratorium is in place.
"Minnesota made strides last year, passing statewide restrictions on the use of no-knock warrants," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement Friday. "But the events leading to the death of Amir Locke illustrate the need for further reform. To ensure the safety of both residents and law enforcement, we need to make additional changes to police policies and practices regarding the execution of search warrants."
The co-chairs of the Minnesota legislative People of Color and Indigenous Caucus said they will be pushing for a statewide prohibition of no-knock warrants, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota also renewed its call for a ban.
"Too often, these warrants lead to injury and even death, as in the case of the police killings of Mr. Locke and Breonna Taylor," ACLU-MN said in a statement. The group said they question "why MPD insisted upon a no-knock search warrant in this case, when the originating agency for the search, St. Paul Police, did not reportedly feel one was necessary."
MINNEAPOLIS POLICE RESTRICTED USE OF 'NO KNOCK' WARRANTS
The Minneapolis Police Department restricted use of "no knock" warrants following the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
Under the policy, which took effect in November 2020, officers usually must announce their presence as they enter, make periodic announcements while inside and give occupants reasonable time to respond. They're known as "entry with announcement" warrants. Judges can also sign warrants in high-risk situations that allow "unannounced entry," and they're generally handled by SWAT teams.
St. Paul police last carried out a "no knock" warrant in 2016, according to Linders.
This story contains information from the Associated Press.