The Minneapolis judge who presided over Derek Chauvin’s state murder trial was on duty when the warrant was signed that led to the fatal police shooting of Amir Locke last Wednesday.
Judge Peter Cahill was the signing judge last week, which means that he would have reviewed and signed off on applications for search warrants, a spokesman for the Hennepin County District Court said in a statement.
“The warrant granting authority to search the apartment is not publicly available so the Court cannot comment whether Judge Cahill specifically signed that application,” the spokesman, Matt Lehman, said. “Judge Cahill cannot comment on this particular application or any application for a search warrant because the Minnesota Code of Judicial Conduct (Rule 2.10) prohibits judges or Court staff from commenting on active or pending cases.”
Cahill was thrust into the media spotlight last year after he was picked to oversee the trial that ended in former Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin’s conviction on charges of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 ½ minutes on May 25, 2020, while the Black man was handcuffed, facedown and pleading that he could not breathe. Cahill sentenced Chauvin to 22½ years in prison.
Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by Minneapolis police in an early morning raid at an apartment complex as officers served a no-knock search warrant.
A police body camera video shows Locke lying on a couch under a blanket, until an officer kicked the couch. Locke could be seen beginning to move, with a pistol in his hand just before an officer fires his weapon. His parents have called his death an execution. They said he was startled from a deep sleep and reached for a legal firearm to protect himself. The Minneapolis police news release of the incident describes the handgun as “pointed in the direction of the officer.” However, in the footage it’s not clear whether the gun was pointing at an officer.
Locke’s family has retained civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.
“Like the case of Breonna Taylor, the tragic killing of Amir Locke shows a pattern of no-knock warrants having deadly consequences for Black Americans,” Crump said in a statement Thursday. “This is yet another example of why we need to put an end to these kinds of search warrants so that one day, Black Americans will be able to sleep safely in their beds at night.”
The entire encounter took less than 10 seconds.
The Minneapolis Police Department’s SWAT team had been carrying out a warrant for the Saint Paul Police Department’s homicide unit.
At a news conference Thursday, interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman said Locke was not named in the original search warrant and that it was unclear if or how he was connected to the St. Paul Police Department’s investigation.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Friday ordered an immediate halt to no-knock warrants.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted Chauvin and Kim Potter, a white former Brooklyn Center police officer found guilty of manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright, a Black motorist, said his office would join a review of the shooting of Locke.