A celebrity-backed bail fund has closed after being sued for freeing a serial criminal who tried to murder an Asian waiter just six days later. The Bail Project – whose backers include Richard Branson, Danny Glover and John Legend – announced it was disbanding its Las Vegas chapter earlier this month over the case of Rashawn Gaston-Anderson, 24.
He was arrested in November 2021 for burglary and theft but was released by The Bail Project after they paid his $3,000 bail.
Less than one week after he was released, Gaston-Anderson went into a restaurant and opened fire on an Asian waiter named Chengyan Wang, shooting him 11 times and almost killing him.
Wang survived, and is now suing The Bail Project over the incident.
Wang’s lawsuit has targeted The Bail Project for paying to free Gaston Anderson in spite of his criminal past.
The Daily Mail reports that similar nonprofits have sprung up since the Black Lives Matter protests and riots of summer 2020 to help free suspected criminals unable to afford bail.
Supporters say the bail system reinforces a two-tier justice system, that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and that it’s unfair for a poor person to languish behind bars while richer defendants can walk free.
But critics say the idea springs dangerous criminals back onto the street – and can even embolden them to reoffend. As crime has spiked, some states have moved to limit the use of bail.
In November 2021, Gaston-Anderson was arrested by officers for pandering and carrying a concealed carry, according to court records.
He was allowed to walk without paying bail in that arrest and was advised to stay out of trouble in the future.
The very next day, he was arrested again in Las Vegas for burglary and theft.
That’s when The Bail Project stepped in.
The group, which seeks to disrupt the cash bail system, paid the $3,000 bond set by Las Vegas Justice Court Judge Amy Chelini.
Six days after he was released from jail, Gaston-Anderson walked into the Shanghai Taste restaurant and shot at Wang 11 times.
The waiter survived and has undergone rehabilitation for his injuries.
In the lawsuit, Wang’s attorneys say The Bail Project used ‘no due diligence in determining whether Rashawn Gaston-Anderson would be a danger to the community and likely re-offend.’
According to The Bail Project’s website, the organization believes in ending cash bail and calls the issue ‘one of the defining civil rights and racial justice issues of our day.’
‘Along with our bailouts and direct services, we use the power of human stories and data to make the public case for ending cash bail and investing in communities and alternatives to incarceration,’ the group’s website states.