Amir Locke

Amir Locke's Cousin Arrested in Probe That Led to Fatal Raid

Locke's family has questioned the account by Minneapolis police that says Locke was shot after he pointed a gun in the direction of officers

NBC

Authorities arrested Amir Locke's 17-year-old cousin in connection with the homicide investigation that led police to the Minneapolis apartment where a SWAT team officer fatally shot Locke while conducting a search warrant, police said Tuesday.

Mekhi Camden Speed was charged Tuesday with two counts of second-degree murder in the Jan. 10 killing of Otis Elder and was expected to make his initial court appearance in juvenile court. Prosecutors have filed a motion to have Speed tried as an adult, which would be up to a judge. Under Minnesota law, it's presumed a child will face trial as an adult if they are 16 or older and the alleged crime would result in a prison sentence or was a felony involving a firearm.

It was not immediately clear if Speed had an attorney. His mother did not immediately reply to a message sent over social media, and a message left at a phone number believed to be hers was not returned.

Locke’s death has sparked protests, with hundreds of people turning out for a rally Saturday in downtown Minneapolis and students in area high schools planning a walkout Tuesday, and an immediate reexamination of no-knock arrest warrants. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey last week announced a moratorium on such warrants while the city brings in outside experts to study its policy. Some state lawmakers are pushing for a statewide ban except in rare circumstances.

St. Paul police had obtained search warrants as part of their investigation into Elder's death, including a warrant for the downtown Minneapolis apartment where Locke's family said he had been staying. Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman has said her department had both warrants that would have required authorities to knock and not knock. Huffman has said that Locke was not named in the search warrants.

A Minneapolis SWAT team entered the unit without knocking on Feb. 2. Body camera video shows an officer using a key to unlock the door and enter, followed by at least four officers in uniform and protective vests, time-stamped at about 6:48 a.m. As they enter, they repeatedly shout, “Police, search warrant!” They also shout “Hands!” and “Get on the ground!” The video shows an officer kick a sectional sofa, and Locke is seen wrapped in a comforter, holding a pistol. Three shots are heard, and the video ends.

The police killing of Amir Locke in Minneapolis is drawing scrutiny to no-knock warrants, after police body camera footage showed a SWAT team entering an apartment and shooting Locke, who was under a blanket on the couch. "There isn't much of an announcement in terms of the time between them entering the premises and then beginning to fire shots," says MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Charles Coleman Jr.

The city also released a still image from the video showing Locke holding the gun, his trigger finger along the side of the barrel.

Minneapolis police have said that Locke was shot after he pointed his gun in the direction of officers, but Locke’s family has questioned that.

Attorneys for Locke’s family, including Ben Crump, noted in a statement that Speed “was not present in Unit 701, where the no-knock warrant and Amir were both executed.” The attorneys said Locke “is now the latest statistic and victim of the dangerous and intrusive no-knock warrant techniques that must be banned.”

A charging document filed Tuesday against Speed says police used surveillance videos to connect him to Elder's shooting after a witness told police that a silver Mercedes-Benz had fled the scene. The document said video showed the Mercedes parked near Elder's vehicle, with two males getting out and approaching — one entering the passenger side and the other standing outside the driver's door.

“This male stepped back and a loud gunshot was heard,” the document says.

Surveillance video allowed police to track the Mercedes, which had been stolen, to the Bolero Flats apartment building, where three males — including two who were believed to be at the scene of Elder's shooting — were seen getting out. Speed was identified as being on the video.

Witnesses said he lived with his mother in Apartment 1402, and also has a key to 701 — where his brother lives and where Locke was shot by police, according to the document. Another person who was identified on the surveillance video was associated with apartment 1403, prosecutors said.

Additional surveillance video shows four males, including Speed, leaving the Mercedes at a nearby downtown parking ramp early on Jan. 11 — just hours after Elder was killed, the charging document says. The Mercedes was not found until 10 days later.

Police had search warrants for apartment 701, 1402 and 1403, the charging petition said. They also had “probable cause pick up and holds” to arrest Speed and two others for murder and for aiding an offender afterward.

When authorities arrested Speed on Monday, he attempted to run away, but was stopped when an officer grabbed his jacket. According to the charging document, he had a loaded gun in his jacket and has refused to talk to investigators.

St. Paul police said the warrants that led to the searchof the downtown Minneapolis apartment will likely be unsealed after charges are filed.

An incident detail report from the Minneapolis Police Department shows officers considered this a “high risk warrant entry,” but it doesn’t detail why.

At the time of Elder’s killing, Speed was on supervised probation after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon for shooting a man in the thigh in Brooklyn Park in September 2020, according to court records. Speed, who was 16 at the time of that shooting, was sentenced under what is known as extended juvenile jurisdiction, which means he was given both an adult and juvenile sentence.

His adult sentence of three years in prison was put on hold as long as he follows terms of his probation. He was placed on probation until age 21, and spent time at the West Regional Juvenile Center in northwestern Minnesota, where he was to take part in an individualized treatment program, including skills training and trauma therapy, court records show. Records show he violated probation last summer — including for testing positive for marijuana and for failing to attend school regularly — and he was placed in his mother's custody last October and put on electronic monitoring for 30 days, with furloughs to attend school. He is not allowed to have a firearm.

Speed's brother, Marlon Cornelius Speed, lives in apartment 701 and was there on the night Locke was killed, the charging document says.

Marlon Speed pleaded guilty in 2019 to one misdemeanor count of obstructing the legal process and interfering with an officer in connection with a 2018 traffic stop in which he allegedly threatened to spit on and beat up an officer. The officer's hand was injured in a struggle. Last November, Marlon Speed was charged with domestic assault by strangulation for an incident in which he allegedly choked his sister after she tried to intervene when he hit his girlfriend with a belt. That case against Marlon Speed is pending.

The Associated Press could not find a contact number for Marlon Speed, and it was not clear if he has an attorney representing him in connection with the SWAT search.

Elder, a 38-year-old father of two, was found shot and laying in the street on Jan. 10. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported at the time that paramedics gave him medical aid and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A motive for his killing was not immediately known.

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