MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Allen “Lance” Scarsella, on trial for shooting five protesters during a protest at the Minneapolis police 4th Precinct headquarters in 2015, took to the witness stand Friday late afternoon after a friend testified Scarsella acted in self-defense.
At the start of this trial, Scarsella's defense attorney told the jury they probably won't like his client.
There's been evidence that he sent racist messages and took part in a racially charged video days before the 4th Precinct shooting.
But Scarsella claims the only reason he opened fire that night was self-defense and on the witness stand his friend, Nathan Gustavsson, agreed.
Gustavsson’s testimony dominated most of the day in court on Friday.
Gustavsson is a friend, or as he described an acquaintance, of defendant Scarsella.
The pair were part of a group that went to the Black Lives Matter/Jamar Clark occupation protest at 4th Precinct headquarters on the night of the shooting.
They claim was that, despite wearing masks, they were there to simply observe, listen to music and live stream the events. But, things changed when demonstrators, who were on edge about a threatening video that featured Scarsella at the protest just days before the shooting, surrounded them.
A police surveillance video shows the group retreating when Gustavvson is punched to the ground.
He testified that Scarsella helped him up and then a few blocks later, the situation worsened when an angry protester seemed to pull out a shiny, metallic weapon that appeared to be a knife.
"A man held some kind of weapon over his head… and he laughed when he saw my fear," testified Gustavvson.
He testified he was scared and “didn't know what the future was going to hold."
Gustavsson told the courtroom within a second, Scarsella opened fire and five men were struck.
Gustavsson would eventually turn himself into authorities, claiming the incident was absolutely a case of self-defense.
He, too, is facing charges in the case and risked self-incrimination by testifying.
"I'm here today because the truth needs to be known,” he testified. “Justice needs to be done."
Scarsella took the stand around 4 p.m. and spent about 30 minutes answering some basic setup questions from his defense attorney.
Prosecutors contend Scarsella went to the 4th Precinct armed, masked, and looking for trouble.
Court resumes on Monday.