Bail Reform Group Closes Las Vegas Chapter After Client Shoots Restaurant Worker
The Bail Project, an organization with the stated goal of bail reform, has suspended its Las Vegas chapter after it came under scrutiny for granting bail to a felon who ended up shooting a restaurant employee.
In November 2021, Rashawn Gaston-Anderson was arrested for care and possession of a concealed weapon. The day after he was released, he was arrested again for burglary and theft. In December 2021, The Bail Project posted a $3,000 bond and got him out. Six days later, Gaston-Anderson opened fire on a restaurant worker in Chinatown, shooting victim Chengyan Wang a total of 11 times.
In September of this year, Wang filed a lawsuit against The Bail Project, Gaston-Anderson and the owner of Shanghai Plaza, US Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp., of Las Vegas, where he was working when he was shot.
Project Bail ceased operations in Las Vegas in early December of this year due to restructuring, the group said, according to 8 News. The group’s Las Vegas website now returns a “404 error.”
“It’s an absolute tragedy and The Bail Project, speaking for The Bail Project, found it absolutely shocking,” said Cameron Pipe, regional director for The Bail Project in the West, in an interview with the newspaper.
When asked if the organization noticed any red flags about Gaston-Anderson before releasing him, Pipe replied that “every single decision we make at Project Bail goes through the same thorough review.”
Wang suffered serious injuries including a punctured lung and stomach from the gunshots.
“He has scars all over his body,” his attorney Kory Kaplan told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He can’t move his shoulder above a certain height. I don’t know how (the bullets) missed a vital artery.”
Wang was alone when he was shot by Gaston-Anderson. While Wang is seeking over $15,000 in damages from the organization and Gaston-Anderson, the property owner is allegedly responsible for not providing him with adequate security.
According to the lawsuit, The Bail Project failed to assess the potential risk Gaston-Anderson posed to the community when posting the $3,000 bail.
Gaston-Anderson’s past cases included two counts of grand larceny, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and one count of business burglary.
Kaplan noted that The Bail Project is not registered as a bail agent with the Nevada Division of Insurance. This is required by state law.
“They are going as a rescue agency rescuing people without due care or with little care,” the lawyer said.
Gaston-Anderson was sentenced this month to 7 to 18 years in prison for Wang’s murder.
Parole of accused criminals
Funded by individual donors and foundations, Project Bail has the support of celebrities such as Danny Glover, Richard Branson and John Legend. On its website, The Bail Project claims to fight mass incarceration by disrupting the cash bail system one person at a time.
“We restore the presumption of innocence, reunite families and challenge a system that criminalizes race and poverty. We’re on a mission to end cash bail and create a fairer, more just and more humane bail system,” he says.
In May, an affidavit filed in an Indianapolis court stated that Project Bail had set free bail for 22,000 low-income individuals as of December 2021.
Project Bail is no stranger to rescuing accused criminals who have gone on to commit other crimes. In January 2021, The Bail Project posted a $5,000 bond for Travis Lang.
A few months later in October, Lang allegedly shot and killed 24-year-old Dylan McGinnis. Like Gaston-Anderson, Lang also had a history of offenses including possession of cocaine.