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Minnesota police officer won't be charged in Amir Locke shooting death

April 6 (UPI) -- A Minnesota police officer will not be charged in the shooting death of Amir Locke during a raid on a St. Paul home in February, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Minneapolis Police Officer Mark Hanneman fired the three shots that killed Locke, while executing a no-knock warrant on Feb. 2, but in a statement issued Wednesday, prosecutors said they are declining to file charges in the case.

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Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, was not a suspect and wasn't named in the warrant when he was shot, later dying in the hospital.

His death sparked protests across the city and state, inflaming already-high tensions in the wake of the police-caused death of George Floyd. Protesters in St. Paul called on the city's mayor and interim police chief to resign.

In a joint statement, Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison called Locke's death a tragedy, but said there wasn't enough admissible evidence to ensure a reasonable chance of convicting Hanneman.

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"After a thorough review of all available evidence, however, there is insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges in this case. Specifically, the State would be unable to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements of Minnesota's use-of-deadly-force statute that authorizes the use of force by Officer Hanneman. Nor would the State be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a criminal charge against any other officer involved in the decision-making that led to the death of Amir Locke," reads the statement.

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"He should be alive today, and his death is a tragedy. Amir Locke was not a suspect in the underlying Saint Paul criminal investigation nor was he named in the search warrants. Amir Locke is a victim. This tragedy may not have occurred absent the no-knock warrant used in this case."

Hanneman was part of a Minneapolis SWAT team that was asked by the St. Paul Police Department to serve the warrant, as officers looked for Locke's cousin, Mekhi Speed. Speed was later arrested on a murder charge.

The officer fired three shots, hitting Locke who had been asleep on a couch with a gun when police opened the front door.

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The case once again thrusts the controversial no-knock procedure into the spotlight. In September, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department would take steps to restrict the use of no-knock warrants.

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