MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Hennepin County judge sentenced Allen Scarsella to 15 years behind bars for shooting five Black Lives Matter protesters in 2015.
The protest was outside of Minneapolis’ 4th Precinct police station in response to the shooting death of Jamar Clark by one of their officers.
Scarsella and some friends got into an argument with some of the protesters. Scarsella’s defense team said during the trial that he feared for his life and that is why he fired his gun.
At sentencing on Wednesday, Scarsella addressed Judge Hilary Lindell Caligiuri and asked for probation.
Scarsella has been in county jail for nearly 18 months.
Caliguri gave Scarsella 15 years in prison out of a possible 20-year maximum.
The 25-year-old Bloomington man was convicted in February of a dozen felony counts of assault and riot.
For the victims of the shooting and their families, the sentence was not nearly long enough.
One of the shooting victims, Cameron Clark, who is the cousin of the late Jamar Clark, said he is still dealing with physical and emotional pain from the shooting.
“I can’t do a lot of things with my kids anymore, I can’t work,” Clark said. “I’m going to be living with his for the rest of my life.”
In the courtroom, Hennepin County prosecutors asked the judge for the maximum sentence, while the defense maintained Scarsella has remorse for his actions, and was acting in self-defense.
Scarsella addressed the judge.
“The fact that others were injured because of something I did weighs heavily on my heart every day,” Scarsella said. “The incident touched so many lives and everybody who was involved is now worse off for it.”
Cameron Clark doesn’t buy that Scarsella is truly remorseful.
“All of that was lies and he was just trying to make the judge have some sympathy for him,” he said.
Defense attorney Laura Heinrich argued Scarsella was “naïve” at the time of the shooting, didn’t know what life was like for black people on the north side of Minneapolis, and that his brain may not have fully developed, because he was around 22 years old at the time he put on a mask, went to the Fourth Precinct to live stream, and eventually shot five people.
The judge agreed with prosecutors, who said Scarsella was deeply racist as evidenced by months of racist messages he had sent to friends leading up to the shooting.
Cameron Clark said he believes initial charges brought forth by the county against Scarsella should have been more severe.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said on Wednesday that first-degree assault was the highest charge he could bring, given the evidence the county had.