US gun group defends armed man killed by police

A gun rights group has condemned the Minneapolis police killing of a man who was shot while lying on a couch.

Bodycam video shows Amir Locke, 22, stirring under a blanket before he is gunned down by a Swat team during a dawn raid on Wednesday.

Mr Locke, who appeared to be holding a pistol but was not the target of the warrant, died within minutes.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus called Mr Locke “a law-abiding citizen who was lawfully in possession of a firearm”.

The Minnesota National Guard has been activated in case of unrest, the governor said on Friday.

The city police department is still trying to regain public confidence after one of its officers murdered George Floyd in May 2020. Three other officers are currently on trial for Floyd’s death.

Video released on Thursday shows Mr Locke, who was black, lying on a couch as officers use keys to enter the flat.

They were searching for someone connected to a homicide in the city of St Paul, but Mr Locke was not the suspect.

The officers identified themselves as police, and opened fire after Mr Locke’s blanket shifted and a handgun appeared. The entire encounter lasted around 10 seconds.

Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus chairman Bryan Strawser said in a statement: “As seen in the body-worn camera video released by Minneapolis Police, Mr Locke appears to be sleeping on the couch during the execution of a no-knock warrant.

“He is awoken with a confusing array of commands coming from multiple officers who are pointing lights and firearms at him.”

Rob Doar, who works in the group’s government affairs office, added: “Mr Locke did what many of us might do in the same confusing circumstances, he reached for a legal means of self-defence while he sought to understand what was happening.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, a left-leaning organisation, said police had failed to ask Mr Locke to drop the gun, or warn him that they would shoot.

Mr Locke’s parents say that he was respectful of police, and that they had instructed their children about “what they needed to do whenever they encountered police officers”.

“My son was executed on 2/2 of 22,” said his mother Karen Wells. “And now his dreams have been destroyed.”

“They didn’t even give him a chance,” added personal injury lawyer Benjamin Crump.

Mr Locke’s family said he legally owned the gun. No permit would be required for the gun in the state, and there was no reason that he would be prevented from having it, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Mr Locke’s parents spoke at a news conference on Friday

On Friday, Hennepin County officials announced that the state’s top prosecutor would help in the investigation.

“Amir Locke’s life mattered,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said in statement, pledging a thorough inquiry.

Governor Tim Walz said National Guard troops were on standby in the event of protests, and also because the trial of three officers involved in George Floyd’s death is nearing a conclusion.

On Friday, city leaders announced a moratorium on all no-knock warrants like the one used in the raid that left Amir Locke dead.

No-knock warrants are usually issued for drugs raids or murder investigations. They allow officers to enter a premises without announcing themselves in advance.

In 2020, Louisville, Kentucky, banned no-knock warrants after the death of Breonna Taylor.

Ms Taylor was shot after her boyfriend mistook the officers for burglars and fired on them.

Officer Brett Hankison is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in connection with the shooting.


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