Jamar Clark protest shooting victim: I thought I would die

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

Teven King was one of the first people to confront Allen Scarsella and three other men wearing masks near the 4th Precinct police station, where demonstrators were protesting the police shooting of Jamar Clark.

Minutes later, King fell to the sidewalk with a bullet in his abdomen.

"I felt like I was going to die," King, 20, testified Friday in the shooting trial of Scarsella, who opened fire on protesters Nov. 23.

"My head felt light," said King, who is slightly built. He described himself as 5 feet 7 inches tall and 130 pounds. He said he weighed about 35 pounds more at the time of the shooting. "It felt like someone reached a hand in my intestines and just twisted them."

King nearly bled to death after the bullet severed a major vein located near his pelvis, Dr. John Cumming, the Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room surgeon who treated King, told the court earlier this week.

Scarsella has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His attorneys say Scarsella was "scared out of his mind," and fired his gun in self-defense as a group of 30 to 40 protesters surrounded him.

Cumming testified that King lost 3 liters of blood, which he said was about half of the circulatory blood supply in the average human body. He said King also suffered damage to his small intestine and two damaged sections had to be removed.

The surgery to repair the damage to King's midsection occurred in two parts, said Cumming. He said King had to be stabilized before the surgery could be completed, so the large incision was covered with plastic instead of being sewn up while King regained his strength.

Cumming said he left the bullet, which he described as a metallic object, embedded in the tissue near King's pelvis. "Based on my experience there's often more risk in trying to retrieve that than benefit."

He said scar tissue will form around it and keep it in place. "There are plenty of war vets carrying shrapnel around with them," said Cumming, who added that those remnants often don't cause any additional health problems.

Cumming said King was discharged from the hospital Dec. 3, about 10 days after the shooting. King said he couldn't walk for two months. He was confined to a wheelchair and then later was able to walk with the help of crutches.

King said the doctors told him that because of the bullet still inside him, he could no longer play contact sports and wouldn't be able to play football anymore.

Defense attorney Laura Heinrich questioned King about how much he'd had to drink that night. King said he drank some Hennessy brandy and smoked marijuana earlier in the day with Wesley Martin, who was also wounded in the shooting.

When asked by Heinrich if he was still feeling the effects of the alcohol and pot at the time of the confrontation with Scarsella, King said, "yes."

Cumming said King's blood alcohol level was 0.022 about an hour after he was shot. That level is several times lower than the legal threshold for someone driving a motor vehicle.

King testified that he saw someone from the crowd of protesters punch one of the four masked men as they walked away down Morgan Avenue, away from the police station. He said the man who was punched was wearing an orange plaid jacket. The man fell down and got back up, as other protesters intervened to protect him from further assault, said King.

King testified that he saw the man later identified as Scarsella, pull out his gun and, without warning, fire eight shots. He felt the bullet hit him in the stomach and he fell backward, said King.

King got up and started to run because he didn't know if Scarsella was going to fire again. He ran for a bit and fell down. When asked by assistant Hennepin County Attorney Judith Hawley why he fell, King replied, "I lost feeling in my legs."