Justice Served? Man Charged With Murder Weeks After Being Bailed Out by VP Harris-Supported Fund

© REUTERS / EVELYN HOCKSTEINU.S. Vice President Kamala Harris takes part in a round table with faith and community leaders who are assisting with the processing of migrants seeking asylum, at Paso del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas, U.S., June 25, 2021
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris takes part in a round table with faith and community leaders who are assisting with the processing of migrants seeking asylum, at Paso del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas, U.S., June 25, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.09.2021
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Established in 2016, the Minnesota Freedom Fund has been helping people that are unable to afford bail. Money returns to the organisation when a person appears in court and can then be used to bail out other individuals. Critics claim the fund has spent thousands of dollars freeing people who have committed serious crimes.
An organisation supported by Vice President Kamala Harris has bailed out a man accused of domestic assault, who weeks later killed a man in a road rage incident. George Howard was charged with two counts of second-degree murder after he shot 38-year-old Luis Damian Martinez Ortiz, the KSTP TV channel reported.
According to the outlet, the surveillance video shows Ortiz Howard's white Volvo and him then collapsing. The victim then got into his car, but failed to drive away. He was pronounced dead in a hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest.
The perpetrator fled the scene, but investigators were able to track his vehicle to a nearby gas station, where he left his Volvo, while another man got inside and drove away. When interviewed by police, Howard admitted that he got into a road rage incident with Ortiz, but said nothing serious happened between the two. When shown the surveillance video from the crime scene, the 47-year-old claimed there was another person in his car, who shot Ortiz from the back seat.
Investigators also interviewed the passenger who got into Howard’s white Volvo at a gas station. The individual told law enforcement that during the altercation, Ortiz reportedly punched Howard before the latter fired a shot. It is unclear how the individual learned about the altercation.
KSTP writes that Howard is banned from possessing a firearm due to a previous conviction. As mentioned earlier, he was freed at the beginning of August in connection with a domestic assault case after the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) posted a $11,500 bail. There is no information on the domestic assault case.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The bail fund posted a series of statements in connection with the incident on its Twitter page, which it later deleted.

"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. 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", reads a statement available on Internet Archive.

MFF said it would monitor the developments in the case and share more information as the facts become known.

The bail fund was a small organisation that had never entered the media spotlight. According to its 2018 tax returns, it raised 100,000 a year. Everything changed after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died at the hands of a white police officer in May 2020. His case reignited the debate on race relations in the United States and led to massive protests against racial discrimination and police brutality across the world.

In the wake of the murder, MFF raised $35 million in part thanks to endorsement of high-profile figures, including then presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who posted a statement on Twitter days before she became Joe Biden’s running mate.
MFF says it doesn’t bail out individuals with the type of crimes they allegedly committed. Donors have no say in whose bail they cover. Critics of the organisation say the lack of oversight has led to awkward situations when people who have committed serious crimes have been allowed to walk free. The KMSP TV channel reported that the fund has bailed out a number of people charged with violent crimes, including a woman who was accused of killing a friend (MFF posted a $100,000 bail) and a twice-convicted rapist who was charged with kidnapping, assault and sexual assault ($350,000 bail).
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