Minneapolis, MN – White supremacist Allen ‘Lance’ Scarsella shot five unarmed African Americans at a Minneapolis Black Lives Matter protest on November 23, 2015. He was found guilty of twelve felonies for the mass shooting. He went on trial in late January and was found guilty on all charges levied against him on February 2nd, 2017.
Part Eight of our comprehensive report-backs from the Scarsella Trial features testimony from none other than Allen Scarsella himself.
[Content Advisory: some of the language seen in this article may be disturbing and offensive to our audience.]
Watch the video below for a timeline of events that led to the shooting:
WITNESS TESTIMONY – DAY NINE (JANUARY 27TH) – PART 2 (pt. 1 is in Part Seven)
In an exciting, yet unsurprising turn of events, 24-year-old Allen Scarsella took the stand in his own self-defense plea. With a half hour left in the day on Friday, January 27, 2017, Scarsella was sworn in wearing a black suit and purple colored tie.
Scarsella said he grew up in Lakeville, played some sports, and is an Eagle Scout. He said multiple members of his family are, or were, with the military, and that he attended West Point before he went to the University of St. Thomas, and he worked for a print merchandising group in Chanhassan.
The defense brought him to Thursday the 19th, where he said that he “worked all day and afterwards I went to gym and worked out” and then went to meet Julio Suarez, whom he said he had met on 4chan. Scarsella was asked what the ‘k’ in the /k/ board on 4chan and he said, “there are theories the ‘k’ stands for katana,” and said “there is a board for every topic under the sun.”
Scarsella testified that he first met Suarez, “at what’s known as a meet-up” to meet in person, and said that “it’s entirely up to the people” to decide how to arrange that meet-up. He said at the meet-up in which he met Suarez, he was only there for about six or seven hours, and there were about 40 people over the weekend.
This is where he met his co-defendants and said, “mostly we shot each other’s guns.” The defense asked him if they do military tactics at these meet-ups and he said, other than camo and military terminology, nothing else is military like. Scarsella stated that late June of 2015 is the last /k/ meet-up he went to and furthered that he does friendly activities with Suarez and his co-defendants.
MEDIA FROM /K/ BOARD MEET-UPS IN MINNESOTA FT. SCARSELLA
Scarsella is visible in the three videos below.
Back to November 19th, Scarsella said that “sometime in the late afternoon or early evening,” Julio contacted him to see if he’d heard of the protests and asked him to go with him. “There was a plan to meet at his house and travel to the protest,” and before they went, Scarsella said, “we watched the livestream and I think the streamer was Unicorn Riot.”
“We decided to take his [Julio’s] car” with no specific plan when they reached the precinct. Scarsella said “I didn’t know that he [Suarez] had anything to say” and was surprised when Suarez started streaming. Scarsella also said that although he knows Suarez to “frequently carry a firearm wherever he goes,” Scarsella “didn’t really know he [Suarez] had a gun until he pulled it out in the car.”
Asked if he carried his gun on him to the precinct as well, and Scarsella said, “yes, I did, because, like Julio Suarez, I generally carry a gun everywhere I go.” He said that he had a ‘pistol permit’ and took some time explaining how he got his certificate and the process.
He said his codename of ‘Black Powder Ranger’ is humorous and it’s because he’s enthusiastic about antique guns, saying, “black powder is old fashioned gun powder.”
Defense attorney Laura Heinrich asked Scarsella what “dindu” means, to which he responded, “well, a dindu is somebody who tries to rationalize someone else’s behavior,” saying he first saw that term on 4chan, where it originated, and that “its usage sort of falls in and out of popularity,” mostly when events happen that draw protests surrounding police.
Scarsella was then asked about the term “reverse cultural enriching,” which he used in his interview with Unicorn Riot (see above) on November 19th. He stated that he has seen it on 4chan and, “I’m not entirely clear on the term of cultural enriching, I believe there is some interaction between different races.”
Heinrich then asked about his use of the term “fire rises,” also in the interview with Unicorn Riot, which Scarsella testified that the “fire rises is a reference to the film the Dark Knight Rises, it’s a Batman film…one of the central characters in the movie is Bane … he’s extremely popular … all the things that Bane says in that movie is meme’d … Baneposting … it’s a subcategory on 4chan … it was extremely popular (during time of the precinct protests),” and said that Bane’s voice is the kicker.
“What is an internet meme?” Heinrich asked Scarsella, who stated, “in short is an idea, an idea that comes into certain parlance within a community particularly on the internet … I think really what a meme is, is an inside joke.”
Scarsella said that Suarez said they were on a “search and rescue” mission in his video on their way to the precinct because a young girl was streaming at the precinct and that it wasn’t safe for her so they went to “search and rescue,” which Scarsella corrected to “search and recover” because “a lot of people were watching from /k/” so he wanted to be correct. The time neared 4:30 p.m. and Judge Caliguiri excused court for the day.
WITNESS TESTIMONY – DAY TEN (JANUARY 30TH)
The morning trial proceedings started on record without the jury, as the attorneys from both sides and the judge discussed important matters regarding jury instructions and questions for Scarsella. Prosecutors were keen on instructing the jury about an Edwards case which spoke about inducing the incident, “the state believes the jury needs instruction on how Scarsella started the incident and therefore needs to fulfill certain things to lawfully use self-defense.”
The state requested to cross-examine Scarsella about his military background because they said that he used West Point as a positive thing in his direct examination, but the state said the reality is that he “resigned during an allegation” of misconduct. Caliguiri ruled that she will allow discussion about resignation of West Point as well as providing the jury with instructions on inducing incidents.
After the jury was seated, the defense continued their direct examination of Scarsella by asking why he resigned after two years at West Point, to which Scarsella replied, “it wasn’t the career path that I wanted to take.” At this point, the judge raised her own objection, “I’m gonna object myself” and she called up the attorneys to the bench for a private conversation. Questioning and bench approaching on this topic continued two more times as Scarsella admitted he left West Point because of an “investigation” against him.
Heinrich then directed questioning to Friday, November 19th, Scarsella’s first visit to the precinct. He said when they got there, they stood at edge and “took it in.” The defense asked, “why were you looking for Unicorn Riot?” Scarsella responded, “we watched his stream earlier and we wanted to be on his livestream.”
Scarsella said that Suarez mentioned they had about 500 people watching their livestream, he said amongst his ‘Baneisms’ was the saying “getting caught was part of the plan,” which he said was “a direct quote from Bane.” Scarsella said “because memes and Bane postings, in particular, are meant to be funny, it was kind of a self-deprecation,” and that “probably 40 or 50 times” he made reference to Bane “because it was very funny on 4chan.”
Scarsella said they ran into someone from the HIS (history) board on 4chan and they “talked to HIS about going to see Unicorn Riot.” Scarsella said that he had not seen any livestreams before that night.
The main statements that Allen Scarsella said in the interview with Unicorn Riot were meme phrases embroiled in racism, such as “more money for them programs,” “more community outreach,” and “melanin enriched community.” Scarsella said he and Suarez didn’t plan their precinct visit and left because they both had to work the next day and they were getting cold.
That Friday he went to work and when he was done, he went to the camping trip with Nathan Gustavsson and others from 4chan’s weapons board and said it was planned for that weekend because it was the open one. He said they go to a State Park that has a gun range and “the plan was to go there and shoot.”
Scarsella said that “Julio told me earlier that 4chan was quite entertained by our livestream” on the night of the 19th and that although him and Gustavsson exchanged many texts, they never talked with each other about them.
Gustavsson and Scarsella were the only two people at the camping ground during the Friday night. On Saturday, Joe Backman and a couple other guys, including Adam Wasdovitch came out to join Scarsella and Gustavsson. Scarsella said they shot rifles at targets and mostly they “talked about guns … some of the other guys talked about internet memes.” He said Gustavsson was “greatly entertained by it and he wanted to see what it was like” at the precinct protests.
“On Sunday, people started packing up their stuff and there were four of us … we went to a restaurant” in Pine City and ate, Scarsella said. The three others he ate with were his three other co-defendants, Gustavsson, Backman, and Macey.
Scarsella said on the day of the shooting, November 23rd, he went grocery shopping, did laundry, went to the gym. He said he still had no plans to go back to the precinct until Gustavsson texted him about going to the protests and that he really wanted to go and others did as well. So, they all met at Julio’s and then went to Taco Bell before going to the precinct.
“Nate had sorta decided that I would do it,” Scarsella testifies that Gustavsson set up the livestream and told him what to do as it was his first time. Scarsella said that everybody was still eating their food when they arrived (Gustavsson testified that only he ordered food).
While looking at Exhibit 1, an aerial picture of the 4th Precinct area, and pointing to Logan Ave. on the screen behind him Scarsella showed where Backman parked his car and said “it wasn’t the same way that we came in, Julio and I, on the 19th” (he parked on Morgan and Plymouth on the 19th).
Scarsella testified that they stuck to the sidewalk on the 23rd and stood across Plymouth on the fence. They started the livestream shortly after they got out of the car, the stream lasted for about six minutes. “I stopped livestreaming because there were more immediate matters that needed my attention,” Scarsella said.
Exhibit 273, the livestream video that Scarsella recorded, was then admitted and published. Scarsella then spoke about what was happening in the video, and said “I don’t think that there was any sound on the video ever … something to do with the apps permissions on the iphone.”
Scarsella was asked why he was filming the banners, and he said it was the “first thing we saw when we entered the area.” The video shows Gustavsson and Macey, who’s wearing a dark green full-body insulated coat, “almost like a freezer suit,” Scarsella said.
The video played for a couple moments as it focused on the signs in the area. The closest protester in the thinned-out crowd was 15-20 yards away and Gustavsson had his speaker playing music lowly, while the four just stood there quietly at the fence.
The defense stopped the video around the two minute mark and moved to admit and publish Exhibit 272, which was video taken from a fire circle showing the four defendants standing by the fence before getting approached by shooting victims Wesley Martin and Teven King, along with King’s girlfriend.
After showing the fifteen second long Exhibit 272, Exhibit 273 was started at the 2:04 mark and Scarsella said that Wesley came up and “he said something in greeting,” and they started talking to him and Teven and his girlfriend. Scarsella said that he asked Wes if he had anything to say to the video and Wes said “yes,” and started to talk about Jamar Clark and then Scarsella said he “asked me for bus fare.” Teven and his girlfriend then spoke about Jamar Clark.
A man in a green shirt comes up to Scarsella, who described it as such, “this guy with the safety glasses just popped up in front of me,” and he said that others started to come in and ask why they are there. Scarsella said it was about eight or ten people at this point and “the various protestors are asking us to take off our masks,” they were very close to him and they were “fairly loud,” telling him to “take your mask off or leave.”
“I vaguely remember saying ‘no, were not with the police’” and Scarsella said that he didn’t have time to take off his mask because “they had a one track mind” and kept asking about the mask. “They were pretty convinced at this point that we had something to do with the police,” Scarsella said he didn’t respond to the demands of taking off his mask and was concerned and that it happened so fast.
Scarsella pointed out Alexander Clark, in a hat and wearing a white hoodie and vest over it, he said that he was most “aggressive protester.” For a brief moment Scarsella said the screen went black because he jerked his phone when one of the protesters “punched me in the face.”
He said that he recognized Draper Larkins, saying “he was one of the protesters who chased us.” Once they rounded the corner on Morgan Ave the video buffers out and Scarsella said, “protesters are pretty agitated” at that point and they were saying “beat they ass, beat they ass.”
After a morning break, trial resumed with a full gallery. A request made by a local corporate news station Kare 11 to film in court was denied.
The defense showed Exhibit 110, the surveillance camera above the 4th Precinct, after briefly focusing on some screenshots from Scarsella’s stream. Scarsella pointed to himself as he came into the frame. When asked why they stopped at the fence, Scarsella said, “I don’t really know … it was just one point into the protest area.”
Alexander Clark is again pointed out during the video, Scarsella pointed to him and said, “he was being very aggressive … following us up Morgan Ave. and making finger guns at us … trying to intimidate us.”
A bit before they rounded the corner, Joseph Backman put his hands in the air and Scarsella followed suit, “at this point I was really scared and I just wanted to leave, that’s all I wanted to do,” Scarsella said as protesters were yelling louder. Scarsella testified that after Gustavsson was punched in the face, “I took a couple steps forward and grabbed the collar of his coat and pulled him back up.”
They then “crossed the street and tried to walk away,” Scarsella said, as protesters followed him after he crossed the street. The defense then shows the court a powerpoint presentation, Exhibit 3. Slide 1 showed where they parked and walked to protest, slide 4 showed that more protesters continue to show up, slide 5 showed growing crowd of protesters, slide 6 the perpetrators start to leave, Backman, Macey, Scarsella, and Gustavsson in order. Slide 7 had blue dots representing Macey and Backman who were 15-20 yards ahead of Scarsella and Gustavsson. Slide 9, is also Exhibit 98, a photo taken by independent photographer Chris Juhn, that showed a slew of people on Morgan Ave., Scarsella pointed to himself in the picture and said “I think I said a few times to the protesters to get back.”
Scarsella said “about five to seven” people followed them up Morgan Ave. Macey and Backman waited for Scarsella and Gustavsson and eventually went up to 15th Ave and over to Logan Avenue. Slide 11 shows two blue dots, Scarsella and Gustavsson semi surrounded by red triangles.
Defense then shows Exhibit 111 again, and Scarsella points himself out, “we were backing away from the protesters who were following us” saying “stay back.” Clearly seen in the video is all of Scarsella’s friends and himself walking within twenty yards of each other heading northeast across Morgan Ave.
The defense used the PowerPoint presentation and other Exhibits to solidify an understanding of where Scarsella was during this incident. Slide 9 showed that the distance from Scarsella and the protesters was closing as they got closer to 14th Ave. Exhibit 7, a picture taken at 14th and Morgan, was shown and Scarsella said protesters were “all around me” on the corner of 14th.
He said that during the confrontation he went up the sidewalk and stopped in between the small tree and large tree. Another picture was shown; a side view in which trees are visible. Scarsella was closer to the big tree, “some were in yard, some on grass and a couple in the street.” He said he turned around because “we heard them behind us yelling … they were very angry … I could tell by the tone of their voice.”
Scarsella said he still had one of his arms up and said he yelled “go back” probably 20 times. He testified that only five or six seconds elapsed from time he crossed sidewalk and
“they were still yelling at each other saying they thought we were the kkk or the police … at the time I was kind of at a loss … I was very scared … they were aggressive.” – Scarsella
Protesters “rushed” up to him, Scarsella testified that he was in fear, “I had already been punched and Nate had already been punched … they didn’t stop … they were yelling they were gonna beat our asses,” and the person close to him said, “white boy your gonna die.”
Scarsella said they spread into a semi-circle within a couple seconds, yelling, and “getting closer and closer and closer.” Scarsella said he thought he saw a knife and it wasn’t a cell phone because he felt it was being used in a threatening manner.
“The situation got totally out of control, I didn’t know what was gonna happen next … I started shooting and finished within a span of 2 seconds.” – Scarsella shot 7 bullets into 5 victims
Gustavsson was “somewhere behind me,” Scarsella said and they ran north on Morgan and went right to Logan and 15th. “At this point I was mortified, I didn’t even understand what happened.” Scarsella stated that he was in a state of shock. After they turned to Logan Ave., Gustavsson fell behind huffing and puffing and they hid behind a car and called Backman who picked them up.
Less than five seconds elapsed from the time Scarsella saw a “shiny object” to when he emptied his gun’s magazine, shooting five people with seven bullets.
Scarsella said that in Backman’s car Gustavsson took a picture of his bleeding face and they went to Julio Suarez’ place, “I sat down on his couch and I just put my head in my hands, I can’t remember exactly what he was saying.”
Macey, Backman, and Suarez were talking to each other when “a friend of Julio’s showed up that I had never seen before, a woman,” Scarsella said. He said he didn’t make any phone calls and that he and Backman went to his house and he texted his lawyer. At this point in the day, the judge excused the court for a lunch break.
The gallery after lunch, once again, was full. Two people standing were told to leave by deputies as there was no seats for them.
Defense attorney Laura Heinrich questioned Scarsella about what happened when he got back to his house. Scarsella said he didn’t remember what he did first, but recalls calling his high school friend and police officer at the time, Brett Levin around 1 a.m.
Brett Levin testified on January 24th and admitted to communicating racist messages with Scarsella and wrote it off as “locker room talk.” The next day, Levin was fired from his position as a police officer with the Burnsville Police Department.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) January 26, 2017
Scarsella testified that he was “mortified about what had happened,” so he called Levin and “told him there was a shooting that happened.” Scarsella said he “wasn’t very steady” while on the phone and that Levin told him to turn himself in and bring his firearm with him.
Scarsella said that he then took his firearm, emptied it, and put it in a drawstring bag and called his girlfriend Ashley Murray because he figured police were coming soon and he wanted to see her and wanted helped putting away his firearms. He said he didn’t talk to Ashley specifically about taking his firearms while on the phone, he just asked her to come over because he “really needed her help.”
When Ashley came, he told her that he had went to the 4th Precinct and shot some people “in self-defense.” At this time, Gustavsson and Backman were on their phones with attorneys, Scarsella said, and that “we were going to meet with the attorney the next day” with plans to turn himself in after bringing his gun in and meeting with the attorney.
Backman left Scarsella’s to go home and talk to his wife, who “didn’t take it very well,” and then came back to Scarsella’s. Scarsella said that although people were eating at his place, “I wasn’t eating anything … I didn’t feel very good. I felt exhausted, physically, and emotionally … I just wanted to get sleep.”
Scarsella said that he didn’t want to talk about it with his girlfriend and then the police came the next morning, raided the house he was renting a room in, and took him, his girlfriend, and his landlord into custody.
Heinrich then attempted to show Exhibit 111 again and had some technical difficulties. Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Chris Freeman helped out and played the video for the defense. Scarsella said that he heard himself say “get back” three times.
When asked about the racist text messages, Scarsella said,
“I don’t believe that I meant anything at all … they were private text messages between me and a friend … none of those things directed my actions – I never acted on any of those things.” – Scarsella
Scarsella testified that he had never had any experiences with people of color and that he was ignorant about issues people of color face. He said that he saw the term “chimp out” “on social media,” and that it was in reference to events that would happen to protests sometimes or police shootings.
The text messages extracted from Scarsella’s cell phone range in dates from 2014 to late 2015. To see our report on the testimony of the police officer in charge of extracting data from Scarsella’s phone, see part five.
When asked about the texts between him and former police officer Brett Levin he said his reasoning for contacting him after the shooting was that, “as a police officer he pays more attention to these things.”
The defense then showed a multitude of videos that were extracted from Scarsella’s phone. Scarsella sent a video of himself shooting a revolver to his friend, who he said both had 1911 handguns. A video of shooting targets in the rain at a shooting range in southern Minnesota was played next. Scarsella said he wasn’t in any kind of training, just shooting around. More videos of shooting were shown, including one where Scarsella tried to make a slow motion video of himself shooting, but “it wouldn’t work, I had some difficulty.” Those videos were in his phone and he had sent many of them to friends.
Next, they showed Exhibits 280 and 282-285, screenshots from Minneapolis Police Officer Steven Jensen’s video. Jensen testified on January 26th, read about it in Part Six. Scarsella said that he recognizes multiple victims and other community members in the pictures, saying they are the ones who “assaulted” him.
Scarsella said he went to the protest “because Nate Gustavsson wanted to go and wanted to livestream and observe.” He said he fired his gun because, “I felt that my life was in danger.” Direct examination by the defense was then concluded.
Judith Hawley, Hennepin County assistant attorney then began the state’s cross-examination of Scarsella by pushing Scarsella to admit that while he still carries a military ID in his wallet, “one of the reasons” he left West Point was because there was an investigation into his misconduct.
Hawley said to Scarsella, you “tried to minimize each one of those racist texts sent on your phone,” and Scarsella responded, “I don’t know if I characterized it as such … I was conversing with a friend of mine.” Hawley said that in 2015, Scarsella applied to be a State Trooper and she asked Scarsella if he thought it was appropriate to speak the way he did about people of color to a “licensed peace officer” and Scarsella said no.
Scarsella said he had four rifles and five or six handguns. He said he has been shooting guns all his life, he goes to the gun range and “goes on retreats with other enthusiasts” and that he is a good marksman. He said he got his conceal carry permit in the springtime of 2014 and has taken gun safety training three times.
Hawley asked Scarsella why he wanted his conceal carry permit, to which he responded, “I think its everybody’s right to carry a firearm.” Hawley said, “that is not what I’m asking. Why do YOU feel the need to have a conceal carry permit?” Scarsella said, “I take my personal safety seriously,” and furthered that he takes his gun with him all the time. Scarsella said he lives and works in the further suburbs of Minneapolis, which prompted Hawley to ask if he had “concerns for his personal safety in the suburbs?” Scarsella stated “no.”
Scarsella reiterated the safety measures of his gun training and Hawley pointed to the fact that Scarsella reloaded the gun that he used to shoot people even with plans to turn it in. The discussion moved along to gun holsters. Scarsella was wearing his gun in a shoulder holster on the 23rd. He stood up and showed the jury how he puts it on and said he owns three or four of them.
Exhibit 79 was then shown to the jury, it was the brown leather shoulder holster that held Scarsella’s Remington 1911. He said that the shoulder holster doesn’t necessarily give him any benefit, but admits that it helps conceal the weapon. Scarsella said that he wore his jacket the night of the 23rd without it being zipped up and had his shoulder holster underneath.
He said he got the 1911 in the fall of 2014 and altered it. Originally, “it came with wood grips” and he made them plastic. Scarsella said the trigger pull was “not very much … about 5.5 or 6 pounds,” and said “no,” when asked if he had altered the trigger pull.
On the topic of 4chan, Scarsella said he’s regularly on the /k/ board. The defense then played the livestream video from the night of November 19th that he and Suarez took.
Scarsella was asked what a “dindu” is, to which he responded, “A dindu is someone who makes excuses for someone else’s behavior,” and he said that “sometimes” it refers to Black folks.
Exhibit 267 is then shown and talked about. Ex. 267 is the picture of the cardboard drawn caricature that reads “I din do nuffin officer,” that was originally shown to court the day before during Nathan Gustavsson testimony is shown.
The picture was extracted from Gustavsson’s phone and was taken during one of their meet-up trips. When asked about the picture and if maybe the cardboard piece had buckshot holes through it, Scarsella said, “it looks like it was run over by a car, could be gravel.”
Hawley brought up the visit to the precinct on the 19th and Scarsella confirmed that he had his gun on him that night. Hawley questioned why no Bane references were found on his found as Scarsella had earlier testified that he was trying to utilize Bane references. Hawley then questions, “how many times was the ‘n word’ found” in Scarsella’s phone and says, “you weren’t there to participate in the protest were you?”
Scarsella said “I didn’t really feel one way or another about Jamar Clark,” and he denied using terms that were “offensive.” Hawley then refers to the language that Scarsella and Suarez used in their livestream on the 19th in which Scarsella referred to a cell phone as a “jewphone 6,” and they also talked about the “master race.”
Hawley questioned why he was there, “You guys were looking for Unicorn Riot, is that right?” and asked him more specifics about the statements he made during the interview. She questioned why he laughed after he made the comment about “melanin enriched communities.” Scarsella denied laughing, and said “I think I took a breath, I didn’t laugh.”
“Do you have a confederate flag hanging in your bedroom?” Hawley’s question was quickly objected to and sustained. She followed that up with, “Do you hate black people?” to which Scarsella said, “uh, no,” Hawley quipped back, “did it surprise you when Ashley Murray said you did?” Scarsella admitted “yes.” At this point, a community member exited the courtroom crying.
Asked about a text from January 21, 2015 , that read “And stars and bars grips on your 1911. So that way you can tempt a chimp to chimp out and then you get to shoot him,” Scarsella admits he’s referring to Black people. Hawley asked him if he frequently used terms like apes, chimps, etc, to refer to Black people and he said “no.” Hawley furthered, “what the text is referencing is provoking a Black person to get angry so you can shoot him,” and Scarsella said “yes.”
Scarsella admitted sending racist text messages about his 1911 Browning killing Brown people “airing out” others. Hawley asked Scarsella if he likes to say the ‘n word’, and Scarsella said, no but that he often texts it.
Hawley brought up a text message that Scarsella “sent to a girl” about George Zimmerman getting away with the murder of Trayvon Martin and asked Scarsella, “so you are contemplating a black guy?” Scarsella said, “no that’s not what I said.”
Hawley asked what he meant by saying “it’s cool” and she said, “you didn’t say kill a person, you said kill a Black person.”
Scarsella claimed that his diatribe about not drinking water after a Black person was a joke and Hawley asked him if he would have a problem drinking water after a Black person, to which he said, “no.”
Another emotional moment from the gallery happened as two community members left and one slammed the door. The judge called for a small break. When they returned, a multitude of extracted text messages from Scarsella’s phone were discussed.
Exhibit 205, a text message from April 3, 2015, about using the 1911 to kill Black people was brought up. When questioned about this message, Scarsella said, “that’s what we were talking about, yea.”
Hawley brought up the Sept. 5th text, “so rocco come practice for when we have to shoot black guys” and Scarsella admitted, “that’s what I said.” Ex. 208 shows Scarsella talking about using a battle tank to run over “at least two dozen rioting n**gers.” In Exhibit 206 Scarsella texted about a shooting near protests in Ferguson and said “they got mad and chimped out,” and Scarsella once again, didn’t elaborate beyond “that’s what it says.”
Finally, Scarsella admitted he sent messages in Exhibit 210, the Sam’s Club text thread with his girlfriend Ashley which took place merely hours before he perpetrated the mass shooting of five unarmed individuals.
As the court returned from afternoon break, the gallery was not as full as it had been in the recent breaks. One of the community members that slammed the door as they exited before the break was told that they could not come back into the courtroom for the remainder of the trial.
Hawley brought the questioning back to the aftermath of the first visit to the precinct on November 19, 2015. That night, Scarsella received a text from Gustavsson alluding to the fact that he wanted to join along the next visit to the precinct because he could “rile so much shit up.” Hawley said that Scarsella had earlier said that Gustavsson didn’t decide to join until Monday, but he texted Thursday night and said he wanted to go.
Hawley focused on the multitude of texts and three phone calls between Gustavsson and Scarsella in the time directly after he left the precinct on the 19th.
Exhibit 225 showed the early morning correspondence between Scarsella and Gustavsson. Based on the “we talk later” message, Hawley asked Scarsella what they talked about later. Scarsella said they “didn’t talk later.” Hawley said “that very same night the two of you were alone up at your camping site in Pine City.”
“How many times do you think you’ve watched the police precinct video?” Hawley asked Scarsella, who had access to review all of the evidence while in jail. He answered “twenty times”, and the other videos on Morgan Avenue, he said he had seen “at least ten times.”
Scarsella said that it wasn’t his “focus” to conceal his identity by wearing a mask and said that “they didn’t give me an opportunity to respond … I thought if I made a move” people would have been “aggressive.” He said he didn’t want to take off his mask and denied that it was because he didn’t want to be identified.
Hawley showed pictures that the BCA took of Scarsella’s face to the court and asked Scarsella to point out where he saw marks because she couldn’t see them. Scarsella said that he was punched in the face and was able to keep the camera streaming. He said that he never told Suarez about being punched and said that he did think that he told his girlfriend Ashley. He testified that he was also shoved while they were close to the fence and the someone may have grabbed the edge of his coat close to 14th Avenue.
Scarsella that he and Gustavsson created some distance between themselves and the protesters when they got to 14th Ave. and denied that he used any racial slurs. Hawley pressed him on that, asking ”you’re aware that testimony [from “states witnesses”] said you have?” Scarsella responded “Yes.”
They showed Exhibit 111 again and Scarsella said that you cannot see the group that came at him. He said that he saw Backman try to cut through a yard but there were fences and then he lost sight of Backman and Macey. Scarsella said that when he and Gustavsson reached the corner, a small group came towards him, one of them, he said, had a metallic object.
Hawley showed a number of pictures to Scarsella, who answered a question, I “couldn’t tell if some of them were Black or not,” and said that they had their faces covered. Hawley said after showing several pictures of victims to Scarsella, “turns out, every single person you shot was a Black person.”
“I said get back. I don’t want to do this,” Scarsella testified, and when asked, he stated, “I did not tell them I had a gun.” Hawley said, “two people you shot, you shot at center mass,” and Scarsella returned “ahh, that’s not correct, I shot one.” He looked at the picture and said below the bellybutton is not center mass. At first, Scarsella didn’t agree that the shot in the back was center mass, saying, “not at that angle.” Soon after, though, after seeing both Teven King’s and Walter Hoskin’s wounds, he agreed that it was center mass.
He said he felt justified in firing the gun eight times and said he didn’t know that he hit anybody, “one person fell down and everybody else ran away.”
Scarsella testified that at Suarez’s place after the shooting, he told Suarez, “somebody had pulled a gun and I beat them to the draw,” and he denied that Suarez ever told him to turn himself in.
Hawley made a few points before being done questioning. She said that if Backman did call 911 like Scarsella thought, then he called before knowing “what happened” and that Backman and Macey weren’t at the shooting scene, so he shouldn’t have used that as an excuse to wait for them to turn himself in.
Defense attorney Heinrich then brought up the Sam’s Club text and how it was just a private conversation and the “jewphone” statement and how it was a quiet discussion in front of the precinct between two people.
Heinrich closed out by saying asking questions that were all answered in “yes.” Essentially saying that Scarsella wore a gun on a regular basis, his shoulder holster wasn’t worn for any particular reason, every night he has a loaded gun on his table and also when Scarsella decided against turning himself in the night of the shooting, that he then took out the gun from the drawstring bag.
The defense finished its questioning, Scarsella was excused from the stand and the court was excused for the day. The last witnesses and closing statements will be found in Part Nine. The verdict and sentencing will be found in Part Ten. For all the other parts before this, see below and click on the picture of the part you would like to see.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our expansive documentation of the Scarsella Trial. To help our volunteer-operated horizontally organized non-profit media collective, please consider a tax-deductible donation:
Protests for Jamar Clark, who was executed by the Minneapolis Police on November 15, led to an eighteen-day outdoor occupation of the 4th Precinct police station. To watch our live coverage of this historic protest encampment that was mere blocks away from the site of Jamar’s death, and a block away from where Scarsella open fired, click here.
Allen Scarsella and his group of co-defendants, Joseph Backman (28 y/o – Eagan, MN), Nathan Gustavsson (22 y/o – Hermantown, MN), and Daniel Macey (who got his charges dropped by Judge Caliguiri in late February), are all part of the growing movement of white nationalists clustered around xenophobic ideology blossoming in internet chat forums.
This racist reality was centered in this trial as a motive for the armed attack, namely speaking and posting about white-supremacist ideals through memes and terminology not fully recognized by the larger majority of the populace.
Trial proceedings in the State of MN vs. Scarsella took place on the sixteenth floor of the Hennepin County Government Center and were presided by Judge Hilary Lindell Caligiuri. Representing Allen Scarsella in his plea of self-defense were public defenders Laura Heinrich and Peter Martin, while Assistant Hennepin County Attorney’s Judith Hawley and Chris Freeman prosecuted the case. Fourteen people sat in the jury box: twelve jurors and two alternates, who were unknown to the court and even themselves until the judge gave the jury instructions after closing statements.
Allen Scarsella was found guilty on all twelve felonies levied against him on February 1st, 2017; one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree riot while armed, and five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon – causing substantial bodily harm, as well as five more counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon (note: on January 31st, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office added the five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon).
Read all ten comprehensive report backs by clicking the titles, Part One: Jury Selection, Unicorn Riot Subpoenaed, Opening Statements | Part Two: “In hindsight it was very stupid” | Part Three: Jury Sees Videos Around Mass Shooting | Part Four: Shooting Victims Testify | Part Five: Cell Phone Extraction Shows Scarsella’s Hardened Racism | Part Six: Defense Attempts to Discredit Protesters Using Police Videos, | Part Seven: Co-Defendant Waives his 5th, Testifies for White Supremacist, | Part Eight: Scarsella Takes Stand, Admits Shooting, Claims Self-Defense, | Part Nine: Defense Rests & Closing Statements, | Part Ten: Scarsella Guilty of 12 Felonies, Sentenced to 15 Years, or by clicking on the images below:
To see Unicorn Riot’s past coverage in relation to this shooting, see below:
Scarsella Trial Reportbacks & Coverage of Shooting at 4th Precinct:
- White Supremacists Shoot Five Protesters and MPD Attacks #Justice4Jamar Crowd - Nov 24, 2015
- “Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes”: White Supremacists Arrested for Shootings - Nov 26, 2015
- #Justice4Jamar Assailants Net Minor Charges; Camp Braces for Police Action - Nov 30, 2015
- Hiding Hate Crimes: Prosecutor Goes Easy on Attempted Murderers - Mar 15, 2016
- Bail Motion Denied for White Supremacist 4th Precinct Shooter - July 6, 2016
- Reportbacks From the Scarsella Trial (Ten Part Series) - May 1, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part One: Jury Selection, Unicorn Riot Subpoenaed, Opening Statements - Jan 27, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Two: “In hindsight it was very stupid” - Feb 4, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Three: Jury Sees Videos Around Mass Shooting - Mar 4, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Four: Shooting Victims Testify - Mar 8, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Five: Cell Phone Extraction Shows Scarsella’s Hardened Racism - Mar 13, 2017
- Scarsella Trial: Part Six – Defense Attempts to Discredit Protesters Using Police Videos - Apr 12, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Seven: Co-Defendant Waives his 5th, Testifies for White Supremacist - Apr 25, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Eight: Scarsella Takes Stand, Admits Shooting, Claims Self-Defense - Apr 26, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Nine: Defense Rests & Closing Statements - Apr 26, 2017
- Scarsella Trial – Part Ten: Scarsella Guilty of 12 Felonies, Sentenced to 15 Years - Apr 27, 2017