Bail fund backed by Kamala Harris freed man charged with murder

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A bail fund promoted by Vice President Kamala Harris helped lead to the release of an alleged Minneapolis domestic abuser — who has now been charged with murder in a road rage slaying.

George Howard, 47, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder for allegedly shooting Luis Damian Martinez Ortiz, 38, during a road rage incident on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis on Aug. 29, KSTP reported.

Surveillance video reportedly showed Ortiz getting out of his blue BMW and approaching Howard’s white Volvo before Howard shot the other man and fled the scene. Ortiz died from a gunshot wound to the chest, officials said.

Just weeks earlier, Howard, a Minneapolis man barred from having a firearm due to previous convictions, was released on $11,500 bond in a domestic assault case on Aug. 6, court records cited by Fox News show. He was bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund – which was touted last year by Vice President Kamala Harris.

George Howard was bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
George Howard was bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund.

“If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota,” Harris tweeted in June 2020.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund acknowledged its role in Howard’s release in a since-deleted tweet that was archived.

“We are aware of reports of the tragic and fatal shooting in Minneapolis earlier this week allegedy involving George Howard, an individual the Minnesota Freedom Fund had previously provided with bail support,” the organization tweeted.

“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 group’s statement continued.

In a follow-up tweet that was also taken down, MFF officials said they have “implemented changes” to its policies and procedures while continuing to assess them.

“MFF is closely monitoring developments in the case and will share more information as additional facts become known,” the organization tweeted Friday.

George Howard was allegedly involved in a road rage incident on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis that resulted in the death of Luis Damian Martinez Ortiz.
George Howard was allegedly involved in a road rage incident on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis that resulted in the death of Luis Damian Martinez Ortiz.
Minnesota Department of Transportation

Reaction to the report on Twitter was swift, with many users blaming Harris and MFF for the bloodshed.

“Even though the domestic abuser you bailed out killed someone?” one reply read.

“Good job @VP,” read another.

A spokesperson for Harris declined to comment Tuesday, Fox News reported. A message seeking comment from White House officials was not immediately returned early Wednesday.

Howard faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted on charges of second-degree murder with intent and second-degree murder without intent in the road rage shooting, Minnesota CBS reported.



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