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Minnesota man gets 15 years for shooting protesters

Allen Scarsella, the Bloomington, Minn., man convicted of shooting and wounding five men at a Minneapolis protest over the 2015 police killing of Jamar Clark, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison.

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Allen Scarsella, the Bloomington, Minn., man convicted of shooting and wounding five men at a Minneapolis protest over the 2015 police killing of Jamar Clark, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison.

The shooting happened Nov. 23, 2015, a little over a week after Clark was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer.

Clark's shooting set off weeks of protests, including an extended encampment outside the 4th Precinct police station in north Minneapolis.

Scarsella, 25, testified during his trial that he was not sympathetic to the protesters, so he went to the encampment site to make fun of them and record some video. When protesters chased him away down a dark street that night, Scarsella claimed he felt threatened, so he pulled out his gun and fired in self-defense.

But during his trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Scarsella, who is white, was motivated by racial bias to shoot the protesters; the victims all are black. The prosecution showed jurors a trail of racist text messages that Scarsella sent to his friends.

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Scarsella was found guilty on a total of 12 counts, including assault with a dangerous weapon and riot. Before hearing his sentence, he told the judge Wednesday he was remorseful that he'd hurt people.

"I'll live with that for the rest of my life, he said. "It's not what I wanted. I wish that it hadn't happened."

Scarsella will be required to serve at least two-thirds of his 15-year sentence in prison, Caligiuri said. He was facing as many as 19 years in prison.

Before the sentencing, shooting victim Cameron Clark told the judge that Scarsella should have been on trial for premeditated murder. Had the roles been reversed, Clark said, and it had been him, a black man, shooting white people, the law would have come down heavier.

Just before passing sentence, Caligiuri told Scarsella she was amazed that people "still held such repugnant ideas in this day and age." She said she didn't know if that's really what he believed or if it was just preening for an audience.

"Either way, you brought a loaded gun" to the protest, she said. "I don't believe for a second you wore a mask that night because it was cold ... The only saving grace is that your shots didn't kill their targets."

 

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard in Duluth at 100.5 FM or online at MPRNews.org .

Related Topics: CRIME
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