Elected officials in Minneapolis have joined the growing chorus demanding the city release bodycam footage of Wednesday's fatal police shooting.
"MPD can and must release the body cam footage," wrote Ward 2 Council Member Robin Worlobah Thursday morning, referencing a SWAT officer's fatal shooting of Amir Locke in a downtown apartment building Feb. 2.
Locke, a young Black man, was shot and killed by a member of a Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team around 6:48 a.m. that day. An MPD statement said the SWAT team was serving a search warrant stemming from a St. Paul Police homicide investigation when members entered an apartment at the Bolero Flats building and encountered Locke. About 9 seconds after entering, one officer — identified as Mark Hanneman — fired his gun, fatally striking Locke, according to police.
MPD said Locke was holding a gun when he was shot.
Thirty hours later, the police department and city have provided few other details.
Jason Chavez, who represents Ward 9, also called for the "immediate release" of the bodycam footage Thursday, saying he expects full transparency from the law enforcement agencies involved. And members of the Minneapolis delegation in the state Legislature sent a letter to Mayor Frey and the police department, urging bodycam footage be released immediately.
"Releasing the bodycam footage of this event, allowing the public to see actions of both officers and Mr. Locke, is essential," the letter said. The lawmakers also asked for a timeline and rationale if the footage won't be published right away.
Frey's office, in a statement, said it is working with the Minneapolis Police Department and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is overseeing the investigation, "to ensure that the footage is released as quickly as possible" without compromising the "integrity of the investigation."
The mayor also said they want to ensure Locke's family "has had an opportunity to review the body camera footage prior to the public release of it."
The statement did not provide a potential timeline.
What has the city and police department revealed?
- Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman acknowledged bodycam footage exists, saying Wednesday she has reviewed video of the incident. She said they could "potentially" release video or images during the investigations.
- The department, the afternoon of the shooting, released two photos of a handgun in a cardboard box, alleging it is the weapon Locke was holding. (Civil rights lawyer and racial justice activist Nekima Levy-Armstrong has since said Locke was a licensed gun owner with a conceal and carry permit.)
- The city has posted those photos, as well as redacted incident detail reports, on a web page dedicated to the police shooting.
- And Frey on Wednesday said "truth and transparency" would serve as the "guiding principles" in the probe, the Minnesota Reformer reported.
As of 1 p.m. Thursday, city and police leaders had said little else. Both the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments have declined to provide a copy of the search warrant authorities say was being executed at the apartment in which Locke was killed. Questions remain as to whether Locke was even the individual named on that search warrant. (The Star Tribune reported Thursday he was not.)
City leaders have also not said whether the SWAT team executed a "no-knock" warrant (use of which had been restricted in November of 2020), nor have they provided a timeline or plan for if and when bodycam footage might be released to the public.
"Minneapolis has a long path before us in establishing a trusting, effective, and professional relationship between its police department and community," the state lawmakers wrote. "Increasing transparency around this tragic situation will be an important step in this journey. We urge you to think creatively with the current laws to release the footage."
A protest is currently planned at Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis Saturday afternoon.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota also weighed in Thursday, calling for the mayor to release the footage immediately. Here's the rest of the organization's statement:
“MPD can’t have it both ways – choosing to selectively share information with the public while refusing to release critical bodycam footage. A full and fair investigation requires transparency, and an independent agency should oversee that investigation.
There are still many questions that need answers. MPD has said only that Locke had a gun in his hand, and an officer killed him within nine seconds of entering the apartment. If someone is holding a gun, that doesn’t automatically give police the right to kill that person. Did Locke point a gun at officers? Did officers do anything to deescalate like retreating or telling him to drop the weapon? Was Locke named on the warrant? If police had a no-knock warrant, did they fully identify themselves as they entered the apartment? And if they had that type of warrant, did they meet the requirements for using it? The bodycam footage should help answer some of these questions, and we call again for it to be released immediately.”