Before being shot by a Minneapolis policeman, Amir Locke had made plans.
The 22-year-old black man had filed paperwork to start a music business, his mother said, and had already designed a logo. Next week, he planned to move to Dallas, where he would be closer to his mother and – he hoped – build a career as a hip-hop artist, following in his father’s musical footsteps.
His death in a Minneapolis apartment where police were serving a search warrant early Wednesday renewed calls for police accountability and justice for black people who are too often victimized. It also left Locke’s united family, friends, and community grieving for the life he was unable to live.
“Amir was a shining light, and he deserves to be able to shine,” his father, Andre Locke, said at a news conference on Friday.
Many questions remain about the events leading up to Locke’s death. But police body camera video shows officers entering the apartment without knocking and an officer kicking the couch where Locke’s family said he was sleeping. In the video, he is seen wrapped in a quilt, starting to move, gun in hand just before an officer fires his weapon.
Locke’s family said he had no criminal record and had a license and concealed carry permit for the gun, which they said he had for protection because he worked in Minneapolis/St. Paul as a driver for a food delivery service. His family includes several people with backgrounds in law enforcement and the military, and his parents and a cousin said they often speak with Amir and other young black men in the family about how to manage. interactions with the police: keep your hands visible, don’t make sudden movements.
They believe Amir, who they say was a deep sleeper, was startled when the officer kicked the couch in his cousin’s apartment and didn’t know who was inside when he grabbed his gun.
Those close to him have repeatedly described him as “a good boy”.
“You took a good boy who was trying to make the most of his environment and outdo it and succeed and he was doing it,” said Reginald McClure, a close cousin of Andre Locke who works in the forces of the order in Texas. “He was discovering life, but he was doing it safely.”
Amir Locke was born in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood, his mother Karen Wells said, with “a head full of curly hair.” He grew up in the suburbs, where he played basketball in middle school and tried out for his high school football team.
“But he broke his collarbone, so it didn’t last,” Wells recalled.
His real passion was music, and he had a natural talent for it, his mother said. Locke loved hip-hop and was about “the realities of what’s happening in the neighborhoods,” said Andre Locke. He also wanted to work with young people, his mother said.
McClure also recalled that Amir Locke had “a big heart”.
When his grandmother died last year, Amir didn’t want to see her body in the casket, so he stayed outside in the parking lot during the funeral, McClure said. After the funeral was over, Andre Locke and the funeral director arranged for Amir to enter through a backdoor so he could be alone with his grandmother.
“We have these pictures with him, and he’s standing there and he’s saying goodbye to his grandmother,” McClure said. “And here comes the crazy part. The same funeral home he was heartbroken to go to see his grandmother because of the greatness of her heart, is the same one he is going to be in.
Associated Press news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York City contributed to this report.
This story was originally published February 5, 2022 12:26 p.m.