‘Locker room talk’: Officer sent racist texts to Black Lives Matter protest shooter
Scarsella, 23, is facing assault charges for shooting five Black Lives Matter protesters on November 23, 2015. The peaceful protests were in demonstrating in response to the death of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man killed by police.
Days before the shooting, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis posted a livestream video showing two men dressed in camouflage and masks driving to the ongoing protests, making racial slurs and referring to protesters as “dindu,” an abbreviation of “dindunuffin,” a racist Internet meme insulting African Americans.
One of the men shows off a pistol, saying they were going to the protests “for a little reverse cultural enriching.”
The two in the video were identified as Scarsella and Julio Sanchez, who did not attend the protests the night of the shooting.
According to the search warrant for Scarsella, Mankato police officer Brett Levin contacted the Minneapolis Police Department hours before any news on the shooting had been reported. Levin told police that Scarsella had called him after the shooting, and admitted that he was the shooter twice in a five-minute phone call.
Levin was friends with Scarsella since high school, and Levin told police he knew Scarsella owned a .45 caliber handgun. The search warrant says that eight guns were recovered, along with “evidence of hate crimes or white supremacy paraphernalia.”
On Tuesday, Levin also testified that he and Scarsella often exchanged “racially charged” text messages that were “negative about black people.” When asked if he had ever replied with similar text messages, Levin replied “Yes, I have.”
Levin justified the text messages, claiming that, “How we were talking was more along the lines of locker room talk,” according to the Star Tribune.
Levin was not asked to describe the content of the racists messages with #Scarsella. He described them as "locker room talk."— Brandon Stahl (@b_stahl) January 24, 2017
Levin has not given specific descriptions of the content of those messages, nor has he given any comment on what those messages might entail.
@BurnsvillePD gosh, I don't know about everyone else but I'd sure like to see what racist officer Levin said to racist shooter Scarsella.— Kearney H. Quinn (@KearneyQ) January 24, 2017
Scarsella is currently arguing that he shot the men in self-defense after a group of protesters rushed him, to which Levin testified in agreement.
“I believe he told me … that one of his friends pushed him down as the protesters caught up to them,” Levin testified, according to the Star Tribune. “One of the protesters pulled out a knife and that’s when Lance pulled out his gun and shot.”
On Wednesday, testimony and videos that Scarsella livestreamed were shown to a jury, none of whom are African-American.
“How can it be self-defense when those guys had guns, and my grandson and his friends, they didn’t have guns they were just walking - going about their business,” James Clark, the father of Jamar Clark and grandfather of one of the victims of the shootings, told KARE.