With the help of a bail fund praised by Vice President Kamala Harris, a man recently jailed for murder was released on a domestic abuse charge.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Harris seized on the nation’s violent racial riots, pushing her 18.8 million Twitter followers to donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund “to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota.”
According to Minneapolis police, George Howard, 48, was involved in a road rage incident on an Interstate 94 entry ramp before shooting another driver—just weeks after being released on domestic assault charges, Fox News reported.
Luis Damian Martinez Ortiz, 38, was later identified as the victim, who, after being shot, got back into his car and drove onto the median strip. Local officials reported he was pronounced dead at the hospital from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Howard has been free on bond since Aug. 6 in connection with a domestic assault case, according to court records. The Minnesota Freedom Fund bailed him out at that point.
In connection with the interstate incident, he was charged with two charges of second-degree murder on Aug. 29.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund admitted on Friday that it assisted in the release of the suspected domestic abuser, but said that alleged dangerous criminals have the right to remain free awaiting trial, tweeting:
“We are aware of reports of the tragic and fatal shooting in Minneapolis earlier this week allegedly involving George Howard, an individual the Minnesota Freedom Fund had previously provided with bail support,” the group wrote. “MFF believes that every individual who has been arrested by the law enforcement is innocent until proven guilty, and if a judge deems them eligible for bail, they should not have to wait in jail simply because they don’t have the same income or access to resources as others.”
Fox News reported while Harris billed the MFF as helping to bail out George Floyd protesters, the fund has only used $3.5 million to bail out accused criminals, with only $210,000 dedicated to protesters, per News Max.
Donors have no say in who their money is used to bail out, and the Freedom Fund has drawn criticism along the way, with claims that it was bailing out violent criminals as early as last August.