MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A Hennepin County judge sentenced Lance Scarsella to 15 years in prison for shooting five protesters near the 4th Precinct in 2015. The sentence means Scarsella will likely spend about a decade behind bars.
He and several others showed up at a protest over the Jamar Clark shooting. It was Scarsella’s second time at the protest after showing up several days before with a friend. Protesters confronted the group over their masks, but the group refused to remove the masks and protesters followed them.
Soon, shots rang out. Scarsella fired eight shots, hitting five protesters.
“I don’t believe for a second you wore a mask that night because you were cold,” Judge Hilary Caliguiri told Scarsella as she sentenced him.
Scarsella addressed the judge, asking for probation. “The fact that others were injured because of something I did weighs heavily on my heart everyday,” Scarsella said.
Cameron Clark, shot twice by Scarsella, spoke both inside and outside the courtroom.
“I wanted to hear the truth. You’re racist. You and the other people charged. You don’t like black people. It’s just that simple," he said. "You showed up. You made a video, you lured us up the street and you fired eight shots.”
Inside the courtroom, Clark told the judge the shooting “changed my life,” and that he still has nightmares.
Clark and his grandfather, James Clark, the father of Jamar Clark, expressed strong disapproval of the sentencing, believing Scarsella deserved a harsher charge, such as murder.
“When it comes to a white man doing something wrong to a black person, they come up with all kinds of excuses,” James Clark told reporters.
During the sentencing, Scarsella’s attorney portrayed him as young and naive, blinded by his white privilege.
The public defender, Laura Heinrich, argued to the judge that Scarsella still had an opportunity to be a strong member of society and expressed concerns over his safety in prison.
The prosecutor, however, portrayed Scarsella as a calculated racist who showed up at the protest to cause violence. Chris Freeman, the prosecutor, described the incident as a “racially motivated mass shooting."
The judge said Scarsella’s parents submitted video testimony in support of their son.
Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County Attorney, said his office was “pleased with sentence, we worked very hard on this case.”
Scarsella was initially scheduled to be sentenced on March 10, but the defense had asked for more time.