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Man freed by Kamala Harris-backed bail fund charged with murder

The Minnesota Freedom Fund paid Tillman’s $2,000 bail, only for the man to be arrested on murder charges less than a month later.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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A Minnesota man who’s release from jail was secured by a bail fund that Vice President Kamala Harris contributed to and promoted has been arrested for murder. Shawn Michael Tillman’s bail is currently set at $2 million.

In May, 33-year-old Shawn Michael Tillman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder after he allegedly shot and killed a 37-year-old man on a downtown St. Paul, Minnesota light rail platform, according to KSTP. This after having been released on bail for a prior charge of indecent exposure.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Tillman’s arrest record includes assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, and multiple counts of indecent exposure. In November of 2018, Tillman received a felony conviction for indecent exposure in the presence of a child.

According to KSTP, Tillman was bailed out of jail on April 29 after he was arrested for an indecent exposure incident in which Tillman allegedly masturbated in front of a woman on the Green Line light rail in St. Paul.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund paid Tillman’s $2,000 bail, only for the man to be arrested for more serious charges less than a month later.

"As a community, we are struggling to navigate and solve violence in our neighborhoods. We all want and deserve to be safe. But it is neither just nor effective to respond to violence by denying bail and pre-emptively punishing people who are disproportionately poor, Black, brown, and Indigenous," read a statement from Mirella Ceja-Orozco and Elizer Darris, Co-Executive Directors of the Minnesota Freedom Fund, who said they stood by their decision to bail out Tillman.

"Minnesota Freedom Fund has learned that Shawn Michael Tillman, who is currently charged with second degree murder in St. Paul, is an individual to whom we previously provided bail support on a gross misdemeanor charge unrelated to the charges for which Mr. Tillman is currently on trial. It is a tragedy and a profound loss when a member of our community is taken by violence, and our thoughts are with the victim’s family as they seek justice for their loved one through the criminal legal system," the statement said.

The fund said that their Post-Release Team had attempted contacted Tillman following his bail being paid, "to offer resources and support," and that they had considered his past convictions in their decision to bail him out.

In the midst of the George Floyd riots of 2020, then-Vice Presidential candidate Harris tweeted her support of the fund, writing, "If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota."

According to the Washington Post, weeks after the death of George Floyd in May of 2020 and tweets of support from Democrats like Harris, the fundraising for the Minnesota Freedom Fund skyrocketed to $35 million.

This is not the first person to be freed by the fund, only to be found back in jail once again.

In September of 2021, it was revealed that Minnesota career criminal George Howard had been arrested once again, this time on murder charges.

The fund had paid Howard’s $11,500 bail on August 6, 2021, which was set in connection to a domestic assault case.

On August 29, Howard was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection to an alleged road rage incident, in which Howard allegedly shot driver on an interstate entrance ramp. The victim later was pronounced dead at the hospital.

In February of 2021, it was revealed that a rioter who had been freed twice by the fund had been arrested once again, this time for charges related to drug possession, weapon possession in a courthouse, and rioting with a weapon.

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