Amir Locke's Death Demonstrates the Recklessness of 'Dynamic Entry' Tactics

Banning "no-knock" search warrants is not enough to prevent lethal confrontations between cops and people exercising the right to armed self-defense.


The Minneapolis police officers who killed Amir Locke stormed into the apartment where he was sleeping before dawn on February 2, shouting orders. They said they took that approach to "decrease the risk for injuries."

That strategy is dubious even when cops are confident that the home they are invading is occupied only by criminal suspects. It is beyond reckless when they have no idea who might be there, especially in a country where citizens have a constitutional right to armed self-defense.

Locke, a 22-year-old aspiring hip-hop artist who was planning a move to Dallas, was staying with his cousin in the meantime. The Minneapolis SWAT officers who woke him up that morning as he slept on his cousin's couch were assisting the St. Paul Police Department by serving a "no-knock" search warrant seeking evidence for a homicide investigation in which Locke was not a suspect.

Body camera video shows the officers quietly unlocking the door to the apartment at 6:48 a.m. before charging in while shouting "police—search warrant!" and "get on the ground!" An officer kicks the sofa where Locke is sleeping under a blanket, which seems to rouse him.

Seeing a gun in Locke's hand, Officer Mark Hanneman immediately fires three shots. Nine seconds have elapsed since the cops entered the apartment.

The Minneapolis Police Department claimed Locke pointed his gun "in the direction of officers." But the video shows the gun pointed toward the floor with Locke's index finger on the barrel rather than the trigger.

Here is how Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Locke's family, summed up the situation: "Strange people bust in his house, awaken him from his sleep, and he reached for his weapon, which he had a Second Amendment right to, to defend himself." Locke's father said "Amir did what…any reasonable, law-abiding citizen would do to protect himself."

Rob Doar, a senior vice president at the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, agreed. "Mr. Locke did what many of us might do in the same confusing circumstances," Doar said. "He reached for a legal means of self-defense while he sought to understand what was happening."

Interim Minneapolis Police Chief Amelia Huffman suggested that Hanneman's decision to shoot Locke was likewise reasonable in the circumstances. "The officer had to make a split-second decision," she said, based on his assessment of whether "he needed to take action right then to protect himself and his partners."

If this situation sounds familiar, that's because the same basic scenario has been playing out in cities across the country for years. Cops who burst into a home, hoping a sudden, overwhelming, and discombobulating show of force will "decrease the risk for injuries," can easily be mistaken for violent criminals.

That's what happened during the 2020 Louisville drug raid that killed Breonna Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old EMT who, like Locke, had no criminal record. Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, responded to the middle-of-the-night home invasion by grabbing a gun and firing a shot at the intruders, which provoked the hail of bullets that killed Taylor.

Local prosecutors initially charged Walker with attempted murder of a police officer but dropped that charge a couple of months later, implicitly recognizing that Walker had a strong self-defense claim. At the same time, prosecutors concluded that charges against the officers who killed Taylor were not justified, and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron concurred that they too had acted in self-defense.

To avoid lethal confrontations like these, reformers frequently propose banning or restricting no-knock warrants. But the Taylor case shows that solution is inadequate.

The Louisville cops banged on the door of Taylor's apartment for about 30 seconds before breaking in and claimed they also announced themselves. She and Walker still did not realize the intruders were police officers.

What's needed is a fundamental reevaluation of "dynamic entry" tactics, which should be reserved for life-or-death emergencies. Routinely deploying them when police execute search warrants is an invitation to tragedies like Amir Locke's senseless death.

© Copyright 2022 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Rob Doar, a senior vice president at the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus

    White supremacist.

    *ignore list*

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  2. Five days and counting. This is beyond embarrassing Reason.

    1. They've got their fingers in their ears, their eyes closed, and are screaming "la la la la la"

    1. Sorry, I just presented medical misinformation. It's children 5-11 starting March 1st.

      1. Thank you for admitting your mistake. The police will come pick you up soon, don't expect a knock.

    2. time to make Boston a ghost town. Let the spirits that now run the place have it. Along with their faithful (but VERY naif) acolytes.

  3. Huh, P.J. O'Rourke died. This might give Reason some cover to talk about something else instead of the 40 ton mastodons in the room.

    1. Something happening up North? I hadn’t heard….


  4. Ending drug prohibition would solve a lot of the problem.

    1. Yes this is a great article for as far as it goes, but where's the underlying libertarian argument for not having so many laws in the first place?

      “People shouldn’t do drugs.”

      Generally, this is solid advice. Drugs screw up lives and often keep you from being the person you could be. I fully support government running informative campaigns to keep people off drugs and even opening treatment centers for people struggling with drug addiction.

      But notice what happens when we change one simple word:

      “People can’t do drugs.”

      If people CAN’T do drugs, that means punishment for those who ignore the law and continue to do drugs. What does that look like? Well, because government only has that giant sledgehammer in its bag, it looks like a trillion dollars fighting the drug war. A boom of the incarcerated, focused mostly on minorities and the poor. And it doesn’t stop when the sentence is over. If you can’t get a job or assistance after you get out because of your conviction, where do you turn to get by?

      And that’s when the drug war works as intended. When things go horribly awry, the drug war looks like this:

      (A memorial in remembrance of Breonna Taylor at Jefferson Square Park. Credit to Scott Utterback/Courier Journal)

      Breonna Taylor was collateral damage in the drug war, but is dead nonetheless. The silver lining to her tragedy was Kentucky’s reform of these dangerous no-knock raids, as well as the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act.

    2. Sure would. Seems that's already happened in SF and LA and Seattle. The local Powers that Think they Be have decreed it.They re taking taxpayer money, buying drugs and kit, and setting up free (in every sense of the word) "drug use zones". No figures have I seen on the amount of public cash they are spending on these "programmes".

      Hey, isn't that sutff illegal? WHEN will the city phoohbahs get busted for unlawful possessio? Oh, that's right. They are immune. One law for thee another for we.

  5. Jacob, you are not pro reform you are pro criminal. Maybe if you'd update your narrative script with actual facts someday you might be an actual journalist instead of just a propaganda shill.

    1. Can you expound on the facts of this incident and what Jacob got wrong or missed for less informed readers?

      1. We need to find out if Locke's firearm was okay to have unlocked in that apartment. The info would have to be obtained from arraignment of the cousin that lives there on a pending domestic violence charge, and what the judge in that instance ordered. Minnesota law needs to be examined if the judge ordered him to possess no weapons, or even specifically firearms. In my state if someone in a house can't possess firearms then anyone else having one must keep them locked up. I had a relative with a felony DUI, and the only way I didn't lose mine is because they are kept locked in a safe so there was no access. Remember Gaige Grosskreutz from the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting? When a judge arraigned him for domestic violence he ordered no possession of firearms.

        1. in most states I know about (quite a few) such bans of arms [ossession by accused/convitcted applies ONLY to the names individual. It would appear that Mr. Locke had thehandgun ON HIS PERSON, or right next to himself. Thus it was NOT accessible to the named target of the raid. A court order cannot disarm a non-involved person even on the basis of shared living space. Friend of mine had got stupid and got hung out to dry on a DWI. His guns had to leave the house, as HE knew where they were and had access. A good friend came over and got them all, whith his help (finding, casing, etc,and all the fodder for them) and took them to HIS house. Friend could go and visit there, but not have contact with the guns, or any others there. WHen I visited my friend I was always armed, as everywhere, and even upon checking, I violated no laws, The prohibitioin was on HIM, not anyone else.

        2. That is an interesting potential legal caveat, but even if he was technically not allowed to possess the gun in that residence, that doesn't change the fact that the policy/method of serving the no-knock warrant resulted in a death. The ultimate point being that the idea of rushing in with surprise and overwhelming force during sleeping hours to prevent a violent resistance seems to more often bring about the opposite result where it would have otherwise gone peacefully.

  6. So for all we know there may have been 75 million no knock warrants executed with no deaths or injuries occurring in 74,999,998 of them, so we need to prohibit them based on this drivel?

    1. Except we know the number of warrants is a lot less than 75 million and the number of incidents is a lot higher than 2

      1. reread her drivellous post. I just did. she says there MAY HAVE BEEN some number she pulled out of her 'fro. Typical "fighting words". Trigger talk. Librul lying.

    2. Do you seriously come to the Reason comments section just to lick boots? Why?

      1. Some people get off to bootlicking, and libertarianism has a long tradition of libertinism as well.

        Not my thing, but it's there.

    3. Yes. Because no-knock raids are clearly unconstitutional, even if bootlickers like you don’t want to admit it.

  7. When the person they are after is an actual threat, such as Whitey Bulger, they often surround the guy outside without incident.

    They don't these kinds of raids because they feel as if there is a threat. No, they do them because they're thugs who like to terrorize and kill people.

    1. And dogs. Don't forget dogs.

    2. I think there's a weird component of "use it or lose it" too. Lots of places have SWAT teams and the amount of Diehard situations have really petered out since Under Siege 2. So, they have these standing forces and there is actual real pressure to utilize them at times.

      So, you get this.

      It's also a thing where you have a huge country, with lots of jurisdictions, and some of them are going to go ham. You see this a lot in places with bad crime (Is Minneapolis? I don't know). People want someone to do something about crime, but that's hard in aggregate. So you get show tactics, and flashbangs are a pretty showy tactic.

      1. At least people are finally wising up to the fact that the police aren't the good guys.

  8. No one cares because poor black man gun owner. Black people don't want to care because legal gun owners are all card carrying KKK members, it is known. White people don't want to care because police shooting le black man in drug raid, he was probably high or something. No one wants to care because literally who poor person.

  9. Never aspire to a rapper or hip hop artist. If the police don't shoot you, your rivals will.

  10. Locke, a 22-year-old aspiring hip-hop artist who was planning a move to Dallas

    The real tragedy is how close he was to escaping to a place where he could get murdered by the cops while eating brisket.

  11. end no-knock warrants! save the dogs and visitors sleeping on couches!

    1. Why is state media ignoring this murder? Its baffling.

      1. wasn't. even. the. suspect. where are the burning buildings?

        1. Those became unfashionable in ~October 2020 for no particular reason.


    fucking christ on a crutch...why don't the retard cops just wait till he goes out for smokes and tackle him like they did george floyd. but without the murder part.

    cops are stupid

    1. Christ never used a crutch, nor was he effing. Start out ike that and you epect to be taken seriously?
      Newsfash George Dloyd KILLED HIMSELF wiht the four times lethal dose of fentanyl and double letl=hal dose of meth. Nor was he tackled. READ the real story, not the loony tunes versions LameStrem Media trotted out needlessly, When he asked to be allowed to lay down, the officers helped im safey get down and lay on the ground. They had by then already realised he was lethally overdosed on some substance, probelby meth or fent. They were right.. he had both.
      Next think you'll be telling us is that Kyle Rittenhouse was walking up the street randomly taking potshots at the folks standing about, kiling twenty weven of them. With an NFA full automatic Main Battle Rifle.

      1. and the helpful knee to the neck/back was practically CPR. our devoted public servants displayed such rousing compassion that they should get keys to the city.

        until that 8-9 minutes video i had never watched a murder. now i have. and nico...spell check helps you get taken seriously more than a fey scolding about my christ reference...so in the spirit of the day here on reason comments...blow me

  13. Hanneman's decision to shoot Locke was likewise reasonable in the circumstances. "The officer had to make a split-second decision,"
    The circumstances of these two individuals was radically different. Mr. Locke was where he had a right to be, and to consider himself safe and secure in that place. He was doing, nor had done, notjing wrong. He was uttelry innocent and non-resposnible. His actions were straight up in good faith.

    The firing officer was in a place where his resence would be, at best, unexoected, and could easily be taken as illegal or thretaning to the life and safety of anyone in that home. He CHOSE to put himself in that dangeorus situation. The isntant he was aware there was a fireram present other than those the coppers brought along with them, he SHOULD have stepped back round the conrer or back out the door, and yelled as if his life depended on it POLICE PUT THE GUN DOWN NOW.

    I will also say that the early reports I read of this incident told a very diffenent story, but they were told before the bodycam information had been released. Now we have those to review, things somehow went quite a bit differently. Hmmmmm.. he said. HOW can that be?
    The dynamic entrey was totallly unjustified, as they knew where this guy went on a regular basis, could have gotten a warrant to wire his car. geolocator and all, and simply gone to somepublic place where he would not expect it, plainclothes, come cally up alongside him and then stated their intention and that he is under arrest. Neutrlaise any possible violent response. But thattakes skill and forethought, and careful planning. Lke REAL detectives used to do. Trouble i,s that ain't very flashy, does not play well on the nightly TeeVee newscasts. Well, neither do noknockers gone bad, killing innocents. Now the folks of Minnealoois wil get fleeced for a few million bux, out otf THEIR pociets, cause the coppers failed to do their work properly.
    If these goys are gonna play big boy games, they need to learn how to play them well.

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