Minnesota prosecutors have charged four men in connection with last week’s shooting that injured five people at a protest over the killing of a black man by Minneapolis police.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said during a news conference that the accused shooter, Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 23, was charged with five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of second-degree riot.
Three other men — Joseph Martin Backman, 27; Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 21; and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26 — were each charged with second-degree riot with a dangerous weapon, Freeman said. Scarsella, Backman and Gustavsson are white, and Macey is Asian. The men have not been charged with hate crimes.
Freeman said his office charged the men with what the evidence supported, and that charging them with hate crimes would not add “one iota of time” to their possible sentences. But, he said: “The feds have got some different statutes. … My review of this file, including the video and the statements, it certainly has components of [a hate crime.]”
The incident took place Nov. 23 outside a police precinct where people had gathered for a Black Lives Matter protest over the police shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark.
“According to a statement posted to the Black Lives Matter group’s Facebook page, the men, whom the group calls, whom the group calls ‘white supremacists,’ opened fire after they were asked to leave the protest and were then escorted away from the encampment.
“Another witness told Minnesota Public Radio that the men approached the encampment and started threatening protesters. The man, the witness said, was ‘punched in the face by the crowd’ and as they were being escorted out, they opened fire.”
Clark was shot Nov. 15 when police responded to a call about an assault in which he was a suspect. Police say Clark interfered with a paramedic who was administering aid to an injured woman and was shot and killed in the ensuing scuffle.
The Associated Press reports that some community activists say Clark was handcuffed when he was shot. The news service adds:
“The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the case, says handcuffs were found at the scene but it isn’t clear whether Clark was cuffed at the time of the shooting. A federal civil rights investigation is also underway.”