Two Minnesota men pleaded guilty Monday to helping another shoot five Black Lives Matter protesters after the 2015 shooting death of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis, with prosecutors now seeking jail time for both, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Clark, 24, was killed in November of 2015 after police responded to a call about a woman being assaulted. Minneapolis officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze shot and killed him, claiming he reached for one of their guns during the struggle. The officers were accused of using excessive force, igniting protests around the nation against the criminalization of Black bodies. The hashtag, #JusticeForJamar, was created in the aftermath of the shooting.
It was during those protests that Nathan Wayne Gustavsson, 23, of Hermantown, and Joseph Martin Backman, 28, of Eagan planned to attack protesters. Gustavsson pleaded guilty to second-degree riot and aiding an offender. HIs accomplice, Joseph Martin Backman, 28, of Eagan pleaded to gross misdemeanor aiding an offender, writes the Tribune. Both men were accomplices to shooter Allen Scarsella, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he opened fire on activists who had condemned Clark’s shooting death at the Minneapolis 4th police precinct in Nov. 23, 2015.
The five protesters were suspicious of Scarsella, who had sent racist text messages before the shooting, and moved to surround him and his accomplices. Scarsella was then accused of firing eight shots, wounding five. A jury in February found him him guilty of first-degree assault, writes the Tribune.
Prosecutors are seeking a six-to-eight month jail sentence and up to 10 years probation for Gustavsson, who defended Scarsella during his trial and sent incriminating texts about “making big news and [getting] protesters to disperse,” the report says. Backman, who was not with Scarsella at the time of the shooting, but visited the precinct later that night, is facing up to 90 days behind bars and two years probation.
Sentencing for both men is scheduled for July 19, notes the Tribune.
And Daniel Macey, a fourth man with Scarsella, had the charges filed against him dropped by Minnesota Fourth Judicial District Judge Hilary Caligiuri.
Coinciding with the case against Gustavsson and Backman is a filing by Clark’s family against officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze, notes CBS Minnesota. A federal civil rights lawsuit alleges that the two cops used excessive force during the November 2015 arrest.
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