Group lauded by state Democrats bailed out man who went on to commit murder

The Minnesota Freedom Fund released a lengthy statement in which they said their "thoughts are with the victim’s family" but defended their actions and offered no apology. 

Shawn Michael Tillman/Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

St. Paul man Shawn Michael Tillman is accused of murdering a nemesis in cold blood on a light rail platform earlier this year.

According to Crime Watch Minneapolis, he was bailed out just three weeks before the murder by Minnesota Freedom Fund, a controversial group with a history of helping violent offenders make bail.

Court documents published by Crime Watch show Minnesota Freedom Fund paid Tillman’s bail April 29 on an indecent exposure case. A few weeks later, on May 20, he pumped six rounds into a man on a light rail platform near Fifth and Minnesota streets because he had a “beef” with the victim, charging documents state.

Surveillance video captured the 4 a.m. murder.

According to the criminal complaint:

The video shows the victim falling into a sign and then onto the ground after Tillman fired his first shot. Tillman then approached the victim and fired twice more. The victim attempted to shield himself with his arm as Tillman fired at his head.

At this point, the victim “grabbed his head with both hands, curled up his body, and shifted his position,” the criminal complaint says. Tillman then fired two more times as the victim’s arms fell to his side.

Police were able to identify Tillman as the likely shooter with a DNA sample from a face mask he left at the scene. An officer who reviewed the surveillance video believed the shooter was Tillman because he recognized him from two indecent exposure cases and a criminal sexual conduct case.

The criminal complaint filed against Tillman says he has three prior felony convictions, including indecent exposure in the presence of a minor, assault in the fourth degree, and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person.

Responding to a KSTP report on the case, the Minnesota Freedom Fund released a lengthy statement in which they said their “thoughts are with the victim’s family” but defended their actions and offered no apology.

“Once a judge assigns a bail amount, it is only ability to pay that determines whether a person remains incarcerated or goes home to await the resolution of their case. Minnesota Freedom Fund believes wealth should not decide the difference between pre-trial detention and pre-trial release,” the group said.

“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,” the statement continued.

Democrats have vigorously defended the Minnesota Freedom Fund in the past, in one case claiming the group does “God’s work” by providing bail for low-income Minnesotans.

Republicans, on the other hand, have proposed legislation that would prohibit groups like Minnesota Freedom Fund from operating in the state.


Anthony Gockowski
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Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.