MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The fate of Allen “Lance” Scarsella, the man accused of shooting five protesters outside the Minneapolis Police Department Fourth Precinct in 2015, is now in the hands of a jury.
The jury must determine whether the shooting was an intentional act of hate and violence, as the prosecution claims, or whether it was a matter of self-defense as Scarsella himself testified.
During the trial, the defense described a frantic scene at the Fourth Precinct after Scarsella and three friends went to the protests in November 2015 to live stream the events for their web-based chat group.
Scarsella's legal team contends angry demonstrators, already enflamed by the shooting of Jamar Clark, turned on the group and threatened to attack. They say their client opened fire only as he retreated, when he saw someone pull out a shiny metal object that he thought was a knife.
Five men were seriously injured in the shooting.
In their closing arguments, prosecutors pointed out that no knives or weapons were ever recovered from the shooting victims.
They implored the jury to look hard at Scarsella's text messaging history to see his hate and his intentions that night, including one message that where he said he wanted to put the confederate flag on his handgun to "get a chimp to chimp out so you could shoot him."
Prosecutors told the jury that's exactly what Scarsella did when he showed up armed and masked after this seemingly threatening live stream video circulated on the internet days earlier.
The defense acknowledged that Scarsella indeed sent "racially derogatory, hateful messages,” but that is speech, not action. They say case must be decided on conduct, not character.
The jury who will decide Scarsella’s fate is made up of nine men and three women. None of the jurors are African American. Scarsella is charged with seven counts, including rioting and first and second degree assault.
The jury will return to deliberate on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.