Here's one version of what happened one cold, sad night last November: Four young racists came to confront Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, and other supporters, at a protest of the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct building.
Protesters were there to keep pressure on cops and other public officials over the police shooting of Jamar Clark, the 24-year-old black Minneapolis resident killed earlier that month. The four counter-protesters — three white, and one Asian — were there to start trouble, and possibly incite violence.
That's just what happened, as black protesters confronted the unknown and masked crew, and tried to force them from the demonstration site. At one point, one of the white kids pulled out a pistol and started shooting, leaving five protesters shot.
Here's another version of what went down: An "angry and violent" mob of black people chased the non-black quartet, and the gunshots were only out of self-defense to preserve their threatened safety. That's the claim made in a legal filings yesterday on behalf of Allen Scarsella, the 24-year-old Lakeville resident accused of being the lone gunman that night.
In separate documents submitted to Hennepin County Judge Hillary Caligiuri, Scarsella's public defender telegraphed that Scarsella would contend that he is not guilty of the six felony charges he faces, and will furthermore argue that Scarsella's actions that night prevented imminent harm to himself and his fellow agitators.
According to one court document, which argued Scarsella's $500,000 bail should be lowered, he and his friends were "peaceably filming the protest" when they were "surrounded by an angry crowd," which "imitated physical contact and directed violent verbal epithets toward them."
The brief goes on to say that "two of the onlookers" — meaning, the anti-Black Lives Matter guys — were "not able to escape the crowd," and that one was "attacked and pushed to the ground."
According to that filing, and conflicting witness statements, the "angry crowd is described as consisting of anywhere from a dozen to thirty members."
The same filing says Scarsella is not a flight risk, and suggests he is, aside from this incident, an otherwise upstanding young man whose psyche is under duress.
"Mr. Scarsella has no criminal history, he is a college graduate, and he has been continuously gainfully employed since his graduation," reads the complaint. "Moreover, Mr. Scarsella's problematic confinement in isolation at the jail has and will continue [to] have a significant impact on his mental health and ability to participate in his defense."
A court hearing to begin sorting through Scarsella's case had been scheduled for Wednesday morning, but was put off for at least another week.
Hennepin County attorneys have indicated that they think Scarsella's alleged crimes are more serious than originally thought, not less: In December, prosecutors upped the charge on one count against Scarsella from second-degree assault to first-degree, intimating that the shooter had intentionally caused serious injury to his victims.