MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The jury has found Allen “Lance” Scarsella guilty of on all 12 counts of assault and rioting in the shooting of five protesters outside the Minneapolis Police Department Fourth Precinct in November 2015.
After listening to two straight weeks of witnesses, testimony and evidence, the jury had to determine whether the shooting was an intentional act of hate and violence, as the prosecution contends, or whether it was an act of self-defense, as Scarsella himself testified.
One of their first orders of business was asking the judge if they could re-watch videos recorded the night of the shooting.
The judge granted their request. Sources told Fox 9 some jurors closely scrutinized the images frame by frame, another asking why some didn’t have audio.
“He needs not prove, but show he went there legitimately. He has the right to bear arms. He did not choose this fight. The fight came to him. And he did what he thought he had to do,” Steve Meshbesher, a veteran criminal defense attorney not connected to the case, told Fox 9.
Prosecutors contend Scarsella is a racist and a gun and military enthusiast who went to the volatile Fourth Precinct protest to antagonize the demonstrators.
They showed the jury a live stream video Scarsella and a friend had posted on the internet days before the confrontation.
Other evidence included some of Scarsella’s text messages that appeared to show a desire to shoot black people.
The jury is weighing a dozen charges, including rioting and first and second degree assault.
Throughout the trial, the defense told the jurors that they may not like their client, but he only opened fire when he feared for his life.
“I’ve done that before too, where I told the jury that they are not going to like my client, but it doesn’t mean he committed a crime,” Meshbesher said. “And the jury came back and acquitted my client.”
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's statement on verdict:
"We are pleased with the jury’s guilty verdict against Allen Scarsella today. 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.
"This office took a very strong stand against Mr. Scarsella. We charged him with the most serious possible charge that the evidence allowed. We argued successfully for a high bail. We argued again in later hearings not to reduce that bail. As a result, he has already been off the streets for 14 months. At his sentencing, we will be seeking the stiffest possible sentence to keep him confined even longer.
"I want to thank the hard and tireless work of assistant Hennepin County Attorneys Judith Hawley and Chris Freeman and the entire team of para-legals, victim advocate and other support staff who presented a superb case to the jury."
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