A 17-year-old was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man Jan. 10 in St. Paul — the underlying case behind a no-knock warrant and predawn Minneapolis police raid last week that killed the teen's cousin Amir Locke.
Mekhi C. Speed of Minneapolis was charged in a juvenile petition filed in Ramsey County with two counts of second-degree murder in the death of Otis R. Elder, 38.
County prosecutors want to certify Speed to be tried as an adult.
The charging document revealed that Speed was living in a different unit of the Bolero Flats Apartment Homes at 1117 S. Marquette Av., in downtown Minneapolis but had access to the apartment where police barged in Feb. 2 and shot the 22-year-old Locke, who was seen with a gun in his hand as he stirred from under a blanket.
Speed appeared via Zoom from the county Juvenile Detention Center in St. Paul for his initial court appearance.
His mother, Cheryl Locke, and a few relatives sat in from defense attorney Steven Meshbesher's office, but the family has yet to decide on legal representation.
"I want more time to talk to my family and my attorney," said Speed, who fidgeted in his chair for most of the hearing.
District Judge Stephen Smith ordered Speed to remain in custody and scheduled another hearing for Feb. 15.
Speed's arrest marked the latest development in a case that has revived intense debate about the use of no-knock search warrants, which critics say unnecessarily escalate police encounters. Thousands of protesters have since taken to the street — and some have walked out of school — to demand justice for Locke and the immediate resignations of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman. Hundreds rallied peacefully again Tuesday evening in downtown Minneapolis.
The sequence of events began last month when officers answered a 911 call in St. Paul's Hamline-Midway neighborhood and found Elder in the street wounded in the back outside a music recording studio in the 500 block of N. Prior Avenue. He died about 30 minutes later at Regions Hospital.
A witness who described himself as Elder's best friend said he heard the gunfire but did not know who would have shot him. He said Elder lived in Minneapolis with his young child and "did not have a problem with anyone."
A person speaking with Elder on the phone just before he was shot told police that "it sounded like Elder was conducting a drug transaction [and] the phone call then abruptly ended," according to the charges against Speed.
As their investigation progressed last week, St. Paul police filed standard applications for search warrant affidavits for three Bolero Flats apartments. Detectives were forced to resubmit the requests after the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) insisted on a no-knock entry.
The MPD would not have agreed to execute the search in its jurisdiction otherwise, according to a law enforcement source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
St. Paul police rarely execute no-knock warrants because they are considered high-risk. The department has not served such a warrant since 2016, spokesman Steve Linders said.
Locke, who was not a target of the investigation, was sleeping in the apartment of relatives when a Minneapolis police SWAT team burst in shortly before 7 a.m.
Video from an officer's body camera showed police quietly unlocking the apartment door with a key before rushing inside, yelling "Search warrant!" as Locke lay under a blanket on the couch. An officer kicked the couch, Locke stirred, holding a firearm in his right hand. He was shot by officer Mark Hanneman, the fatal moment happening within seconds.
The legal team representing the Locke family, led by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, said in a statement that the description of the raid mentioned in the charges "confirms that Amir was never a target of that investigation or those search warrants."
"Amir was an innocent young man ... who is now the latest statistic and victim of the dangerous and intrusive no-knock warrant techniques that must be banned," Crump said.
The warrants remain under seal.
In addition to details about Elder's death, the prosecutors' charging document spelled out some of the circumstances of the fatal raid:
Speed's brother and his girlfriend were in the seventh-floor apartment where Locke was shot. Officers seized clothing that police believe Speed was wearing on the night Elder was shot, the gun belonging to Locke and marijuana.
In the search of anapartment on the 14th floor where Speed lived with his mother, officers seized a hat that police suspect Speed was wearing when Elder was shot. They also tookother items associated with two people believed to be with Speed soon after the Jan. 10 shooting.
The search of a third apartment, also on the 14th floor and associated with a friend of Speed's, turned up "a large amount of marijuana."
Police began looking for Speed on Jan. 24
and found him Sunday in Winona. Arresting officers seized a loaded firearm, and police said Speed was wearing a jacket that they believed he had on when Elder was shot.
Speed, who turns 18 in about a month, declined to speak with investigators. The charges did not elaborate on what led him to Winona, nearly 120 miles south of Minneapolis, or how long he had been there.
At the time of Elder's killing, court records show Speed was on supervised probation in Hennepin County for shooting a teenager in the leg outside a Brooklyn Park gas station in September 2020.
Hennepin County District Judge Shereen Askalani placed Speed on extended juvenile jurisdiction – a form of blended sentencing typically reserved for violent juvenile offenses. In exchange for Speed pleading guilty to felony second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, Askalani stayed a three-year adult prison sentence.
Speed spent at least six months at West Central Regional Juvenile Center in Moorhead, where he was required to participate in trauma therapy and undergo a psychological assessment. Records show he was released to his mother on electronic home monitoring, with furloughs for school, in October 2021.
About three months later, police say, Speed shot Elder.
"That little boy stole my brother's life," Elder's younger sister, Motika Elder, told the Star Tribune. "He never did nothing wrong to anyone. There was no reason for him to be killed."
She said a St. Paul investigator called the Elder family Tuesday morning to inform them of the arrest. She said Speed didn't appear to know Elder before the shooting.
A police spokesman declined to comment further — or say whether any suspects remain at large, citing the active investigation.
"O – as most of you knew him – absolutely loved these streets of St. Paul," Elder's cousin, April Fleming, eulogized at his funeral last month. "It's gut-wrenching to know that these same streets took him away from us."