MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The man accused in the November 2015 shooting of five Black Lives Matter protesters was found guilty of all charges by a Hennepin County jury on Wednesday.
Allen Scarsella was one of four men arrested in the incident following the officer-involved shooting of Jamar Clark, which prompted protests from the group Black Lives Matter outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct for weeks. Scarsella had been charged with 12 felony counts in the incident, ranging from assault to rioting.
Prosecutors argued that the shootings of the Black Lives Matter protesters were racially-motivated. Scarsella was identified in a video taken the night of the shootings waiving a handgun and making racially-charged statements about the protesters. The video ends with one of the men involved in the incident saying, "Stay white."
Scarsella admitted to shooting the five protesters to a friend, an officer with the Mankato Police Department. Scarsella took the stand last week in his own defense, claiming he was acting in self-defense.
"Man I had butterflies. Thought they'd be on his side or let him go because he claimed self-defense. Things came out the way I wanted them to come out," shooting victim Cameron Clark said. "But the fight is still not over with."
Scarsella claims his group was punched and had their lives threatened. Scarsella said he saw a protester holding a shining object in a threatening gesture, thought it was a knife, took out his gun and started firing.
"I was shot on my right leg and my left foot. The bullet missed artery by half an inch," said Clark.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said, "The jury believed the charges we made were supported by the evidence we presented the jury, and they found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That to me is a huge victory."
That evidence included a video that was shot in a car while Scarsella and a friend were driving to an earlier protest. In the video, Scarsella is heard saying he is "on a mission" and "locked and loaded" while holding a gun.
One of the text messages he wrote stated that he had gun designed to kill black people. Clark felt the evidence was crucial in reaching a guilty verdict.
"The video, the text messages, [Scarsella] texting the officer and how he saying that he wanted to shoot black people and he really came down there and shot us and he really did his job," Clark said. "He went down there, provoked, saying racial slurs. He lured us up the street and that's when he fired shots at us."
"Mr. Scarsella's conduct was truly outrageous," Freeman said. "Racist language, his conduct is simply not acceptable."
Scarsella will be sentenced March 10. Freeman said he could up to 230 months in prison, or about 19 years. Freeman doesn't believe he'll get that amount but plans to ask for it.
The three other men involved in the incident, Joseph Backman, Nathan Gustavsson and Daniel Macey all face felony charges of second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon.
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