Scarsella found guilty in protest shooting

A Hennepin County jury returned guilty verdicts Feb. 1 on all 12 charges faced by a Lakeville man who opened fire on a Minneapolis Black Lives Matter protest in 2015, injuring five men.

Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 24, of Lakeville, will now face sentencing on the 11 felony assault charges and one felony riot charge stemming from the Nov. 23, 2015 shooting outside of the Fourth Precinct, the site of a weeks-long protest in response to the officer-involved death of Jamar Clark. Clark was shot during a struggle with two officers, and a protest against police violence targeting African-Americans turned into a weeks-long encampment outside the North Minneapolis precinct building.

Scarsella has already been in custody for 14 months, since his arrest shortly after the incident. Scarsella drove to the protest with three other men, and jurors were shown videos the group recorded both before and after the shooting in which he used racist language.

Scarsella is white, and all five of his victims were black.

“As I said at the time we charged Mr. Scarsella and his companions, the racist language he used in the videos and on social media is just not acceptable and the actions he took as a result of those racist beliefs were heinous. The jury obviously saw it the same way,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement released by his office.

The Minneapolis NAACP announced in a statement it was “pleased that the jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts.”

“Our imperfect judicial system, in this instance, produced the correct verdict,” the statement continued. “Scarsella harbored racial animus in his heart and planned to harm black protesters that night.”

Freeman pledged to “seek the stiffest possible sentence” for Scarsella. Sentencing is currently scheduled for March 10.

Still facing felony riot charges related to the incident are Joseph Martin Backman, 28, of Eagan; Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 22, of Hermantown; and Daniel Thomas Macey, 27, of Pine City.