Man accused of shooting 5 at 4th Precinct protest pleads not guilty

Allen Scarsella
Allen "Lance" Scarsella is accused of shooting Black Lives Matter protesters outside the 4th Precinct last November.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Updated: 12:07 p.m. | Posted: 8:05 a.m.

A 24-year-old man charged with shooting five people near a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis has pleaded not guilty, according to a court filing Wednesday. His lawyers have filed notice that he will argue that he acted in self defense.

Allen "Lance" Scarsella, who is white, is facing riot and assault charges in the shooting on Nov. 23 that left five black men injured. Three other men are facing one charge each of second-degree riot related to the incident.

The killing of 24-year-old Jamar Clark sparked protests across the region late last year, including a protest encampment in front of the Minneapolis Police Department's 4th Precinct building.

Prosecutors allege that Scarsella and three other men visited the encampment to cause trouble. A confrontation ensued with protesters and prosecutors say Scarsella shot five men.

In a court filing on Wednesday, Scarsella's lawyers argue that the group was only filming the protest when they were confronted. When the defendants tried to flee, at least one of them was attacked and pushed to the ground, according to the defense.

Scarsella was the first of the men to be arrested. He faces five counts of second-degree assault, one count of second-degree riot and one count of first-degree riot.

The three other men facing one charge of second-degree riot each are 22-year-old Nathan Gustavsson of Hermantown, 27-year-old Daniel Macey of Pine City and 27-year-old Joseph Backman of Eagan.

Scarsella's lawyers also argue in a motion filed Wednesday that his bail was set too high and should be reduced. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office reports that bail is set at $500,000. He has been in jail since Nov. 25.

Scarsella case was scheduled for an omnibus hearing on Wednesday, which was delayed again after his lawyers filed new motions that morning. The other three defendants have not yet entered pleas in their cases but are expected in court on June 24.

The criminal complaint says victims were all African-American men between the ages of 19 and 38. They were shot in the lower abdomen, left knee, thigh and foot, forearm, and leg and back. One victim was treated at Hennepin County Medical Center for over two weeks, underwent surgeries and still carries a bullet fragment in his abdomen, according to the document.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office declined to comment on the active cases. Scarsella's lawyer didn't respond to a request for comment.

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