A domestic abuser who was bailed out of jail by a Minnesota-based bail fund supported last year by then-candidate Kamala Harris was charged with murder on Aug. 29, the New York Post reports.
George Howard, 47, who has a record of domestic abuse, was charged with shooting and killing Luis Martinez Ortiz, 38, in a disturbing road rage incident last month. Ortiz died as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund admitted in a statement on Twitter — which was later deleted — that it had bailed out Howard about three weeks prior to the alleged murder.
“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 admitted Friday.
Group defends actions
The group went on to defend its actions in previously providing bail money to Howard, however.
“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,” the statement continued.
In June 2020, Harris urged her followers in a tweet to donate to the group as part of her support for bail reform after the death of George Floyd.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 1, 2020
Harris was only one of many high-profile backers of the Minnesota group; others have included Adidas, Seth Rogen, Steve Carrell, and Don Cheadle.
Crime on the rise
Other people bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund have been accused sexual abusers, among those who were charged with other heinous crimes. Since bail reforms, including a ban on cash bail, and a ban on bail for those with low incomes, have been implemented in several large cities, crime has increased.
Just a few months after bail reform went into effect in New York City, it is already being amended to provide judges the opportunity to impose bail in an increased number of criminal situations. It also exempted more crimes from cash bail, however, including certain forms of child sex trafficking.
Critics have said that the lack of cash bail encourages more criminal activity, while proponents have said it isn’t fair that people who don’t have money to make bail are forced to await their trials in jail while those with financial resources can get out of jail while awaiting trial.