In opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors suggested racial hatred motivated Scarsella and three friends to, in their words, “stir things up” at the Black Lives Matter encampment in protest of Jamar Clark‘s killing.
Jurors will see damaging videos showing Scarsella and a friend, masked and wearing camouflage, on their way to the protest site four days earlier.
He said they were “going on a mission,” and said on camera they were “locked and loaded” while displaying a pistol.
Scarsella and three friends returned to the protest site the night of Nov. 23, which was when he allegedly fired the eight shots from his .45 caliber pistol, injuring five black men.
The state also recited Scarsella’s racist text messages. He refers to his pistol in one text as being designed to “kill brown people.”
Scarsella’s lawyers will argue he was there only to film the protest and livestream it to the web. They will also argue that the shootings were in self-defense, insisting Scarsella and his friends were outnumbered and threatened after a confrontation broke out between the two sides.
Prosecutors made it clear to jurors that this is not about the police shooting of Jamar Clark, or even Black Lives Matters, saying it is only about why and how the five black men were shot — and who shot them.
It took over a week to impanel a jury. There are going to be a lot of witnesses called to testify, including Scarsella’s girlfriend and a Mankato police officer friend who the defendant called shortly after the shooting to tell him what he had done.