Minneapolis Police Chief Walks Out of Conference While Being Grilled Over Amir Locke Death

Minneapolis' Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman sparked anger after she and the city mayor, Jacob Frey, walked out of a press conference where they were being grilled about the fatal shooting of Amir Locke.

Activists and journalists attended the news conference where Huffman announced the release of body camera footage into Wednesday's incident in which Locke, 22, a Black man, was shot while lying on a couch by SWAT team during a dawn raid.

The case has stoked memories of the 2020 killing of George Floyd by police in the same city which drove nationwide protests and fuelled discourse about race relations in the U.S.

In Thursday's press conference filmed by Fox 9, Huffman had described how Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers had used a key to enter a property where Locke was lying on a couch during a homicide investigation in which police said he was not a suspect.

She said the "barrel of a gun" had been spotted from under Locke's blanket which had become "more fully exposed".

Huffman said "that's when the officer had to make a split-second decision" over whether the threat was "of great bodily harm" and if he needed "to take action then to protect himself and his partners."

After Huffman had outlined the details of the case, Frey told the press conference that "we need transparency" which was the motive to release footage of the incident.

Then the questions from the floor started to get heated as the pair were questioned why Locke had been referred to as a suspect in an earlier press release.

As the question was repeated, Huffman and Frey turned and walked out of the door on their right.

One person off camera shouted, "How is walking out of a press conference transparency? You are murderers." Another shouted, "you owe us an explanation."

In the wake of the killing, Frey has issued a moratorium temporarily halting all no-knock search warrants—a bone of contention among lawyers and activists.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump questioned the use of the no-knock warrant in Locke's death saying it had echoes of the circumstances that had led to the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020.

Crump said "the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans."

Meanwhile, Locke's mother Karen Wells told CNN that their son had obtained a gun legally and had a permit.

"He made sure that he did his research, everything was going to be legal," she told the network, "because they've been watching all their lives about what has been unfolding throughout this nation, on our Black males."

Newsweek has contacted the Minneapolis Police Department for comment.

Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman
Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman is pictured at a press conference on February 3 2022. She faced heated questions about the death of Amir Locke, a Black man who was killed in a dawn raid by officers. Fox 9