County attorney Freeman outlines charges in 4th Precinct shootings


Four men were charged with assault or riot in connection with the shooting of five protesters at the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Allen Lawrence Scarsella, 23, of Lakeville, was charged with six counts including second-degree riot and second-degree assault. Joseph Martin Backman, 27, of Eagan, Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 22, of Hermantown and Daniel Thomas Macey, 26, of Pine City were each charged with one count of second-degree riot-armed with a dangerous weapon.

The men are expected to make their first court appearance Tuesday. Freeman said he will be seeking bail of $500,000 on Scarsella and $250,000 on the other three.

“I personally, and this office, believe strongly in the First Amendment,” Freeman said. “The right to speak, to assemble, these four individuals violently impacted people’s right to demonstrate. We will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

Freeman said the Minnesota hate crime law only moves a misdemeanor crime to a gross misdemeanor and a gross misdemeanor to a felony. The four men were not charged with that because the sentences for them, especially the suspected shooter, Scarsella, would be significantly longer for the riot and second-degree assault charges. However, Freeman noted he has been consulting with U.S. Attorney Andy Luger about this case and if federal hate crime sentences would draw a longer sentence, he would be willing to turn the case over to them.

There is no doubt, he said, that this attack by the four was racially motivated.

“The defendants' own statements, their videos, show that these are sick people,” Freeman said. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but the language they use, and what they say about fellow Americans, citizens, are just not acceptable.”

 In answer to a question, Freeman also said that the types of injuries and the evidence so far gathered does not allow for charging any of the four with attempted murder. He stressed that the investigation is continuing and more charges could come in the future.

“Trust me, this is the most serious charge we could bring under the circumstances,” he said “It would be improper if we did more. These individuals were taken into custody within 24 hours. We have the principal players. We believe there may be another.”

Scarsella criminal complaint (PDF)

Backman criminal complaint (PDF)

Gustavsson criminal complaint (PDF)

Macey criminal complaint (PDF)

Video of press conference (YouTube)