A Minnesota bail fund championed by Vice President Kamala Harris helped free a repeat felon now charged with murder.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund on Thursday acknowledged it helped secure the release of Shawn Michael Tillman, who in May shot and killed a passenger on a rail platform in St. Paul. Harris promoted the Freedom Fund on Twitter during the George Floyd riots in 2020, helping the group raise $35 million in a matter of weeks, according to the Washington Post.
Freedom Fund executive directors Mirella Ceja-Orozco and Elizer Darris defended the group's decision to post Tillman's bail in a statement Thursday, saying, "It is neither just nor effective to respond to violence by denying bail and preemptively punishing people who are disproportionately poor, Black, brown, and Indigenous."
Tillman's criminal record includes multiple counts of indecent exposure, as well as assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, court records show. He is now in custody with bail set at $2 million.
When reached for comment, the Freedom Fund directed the Washington Free Beacon to its statement.
Tillman's most recent felony conviction was in November 2018 for indecent exposure in the presence of a minor. He had seven prior counts of indecent exposure at the time. Ceja-Orozco and Darris said convictions play into their decision to fund those charged with crimes. They did not list any of Tillman's past convictions.
Tillman is not the first person to commit murder after being bailed out by the Freedom Fund. The group helped free a man charged with domestic abuse last year. Weeks later, he murdered another man in a road rage incident, the Free Beacon reported.
The group also shelled out $75,000 in cash to release Jaleel Stallings, who was charged in May 2020 with attempted murder after shooting at police during the Floyd riots.
Minneapolis saw the highest number of homicides last year since the mid-1990s.