Final two men sentenced in shooting of protesters

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hennepin County District Court Judge Hilary Caligiuri sentenced the final two defendants in the shooting of five men protesting outside a Minneapolis police station to probation and some jail time, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 23, was sentenced Wednesday morning to 10 years’ probation, a stay of imposition and eight months in the county workhouse for his involvement in the shooting near the Fourth Precinct in November 2015.

Joseph Martin Backman, 28, who went to the precinct that night but was not with Gustavsson and Scarsella at the time of the shooting, was sentenced late in the afternoon to a gross misdemeanor of two years on probation but 90 days in the workhouse. However, Judge Caligiuri said Backman can serve that sentence on electronic home monitoring with work release.

In both cases, assistant Hennepin County Attorney Chris Freeman told Judge Caligiuri that while none of the victims were present to give victim impact statements, he had spoken repeatedly to victim Cameron Clark and “he has been vocal to me that he wants the highest sentence possible.”

Last month, Gustavsson pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree riot and one count of aiding an offender after the fact. He was with Allen Scarsella on the night of Nov. 23, 2015 when Scarsella shot five men near the precinct station. The stay of imposition means that if he successfully completes his probation, Gustavsson will have the felony counts reduced to a misdemeanor. If he violates any of the conditions of his probation, he can be brought back before a judge and have a harsher sentence imposed. Freeman had asked for only a stay of execution, meaning Gustavsson’s record would continue to show a felony.

In addition to his probation and jail term, Gustavsson’s bail money will be turned over to the shooting victims for restitution, and under Minnesota law, he will no longer be able to touch a gun for the rest of his life.

Backman, 28, also pleaded guilty last month to aiding an offender after the fact for arriving at the scene and driving Scarsella away after the shooting. Backman’s attorney told the judge that Backman’s actions might have saved Scarsella from being killed and denied that his client was a white supremacist.

In February, a jury found Scarsella, 23, guilty of all 12 counts against him. He is now serving a sentence of 15 years in prison.