Carroll Was Awaiting Trial For Another Downtown Mpls. Shooting That Injured Innocent BystanderBy Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A man charged with murder after police say he opened fire outside a nightclub over the weekend is accused of doing the same thing back in 2019.

Jawan Carroll is scheduled to go to trial in a few weeks for a downtown shooting two years ago. Before that could happen, Minneapolis police said he shot and killed two people Saturday morning.

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A Friday night out became a frantic and frightening scene. Nine people were shot outside Monarch Nightclub. Two people were killed. And one man, Carroll, is facing a slew of murder charges.

“Something like this situation where you literally have a trial coming up later this month and you continue to get these types of offenses is unacceptable,” said Joe Tamburino, criminal defense attorney. He’s not connected to any of the cases mentioned, however he is concerned over how the justice system allowed Carroll the freedom to allegedly commit another violent crime.

Carroll was awaiting trial next month connected to a shooting case outside Pizza Luce in 2019. Court documents state there was a confrontation in front of the restaurant and someone started shooting. An innocent bystander was injured. Pizza Luce is just steps from where last weekend’s shooting happened.

Carroll was arrested and charged with second-degree assault for that case. He posted bond and was released.

Months later, he was arrested and charged for allegedly fleeing police during a traffic stop. Tamburino said that means Carroll violated his conditions of release. He wasn’t put behind bars though. He was given a summons.

“There seems to just be this complete attitude in the system that we can simply release people on very low bails or no bails at all and expect everything to be fine,” Tamburino said.

Mary Moriarty, the former Hennepin County chief public defender, understands the frustration people feel.

“It’s tragic when something like this happens,” she said, adding that, “It’s not always avoidable or foreseeable.”

Based on the charges Carroll faces in the previous cases, Moriarty said it’s not unusual that he was out free. She adds that keeping every person facing similar charges jailed is impossible.

“It would cost the taxpayers a fortune and we would be keeping in a lot of people who are presumed innocent who would be fine, perfectly fine out. They would be able to keep their jobs and support their families and keep their housing,” she said.

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When the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020, concerns over possible outbreaks in jails and prison systems grew. Moriarty said the Hennepin County Jail had around 800 inmates when the pandemic began. Through the year, it hovered between 400-500 inmates to better create social distancing. Most of the inmates that were released were in jail on misdemeanor charges. Some facing felony charges were released on a case-by-case basis.

“What I think is critically important here is that the early data showed that those people who were [released] were not committing new crimes,” said Moriarty. “Which tells us we’re probably paying a lot of taxpayer money to keep people in the detention center downtown when we really don’t need to.”

Tamburino is understanding of inmates being released due to COVID-19. However, he feels the frequency in which people are given low bail or no bail for their charges is trending in the wrong direction.

“I’ve been doing this work for 31 years since 1989 and over the past I would say year to 15-18 months, I’ve never seen it this worse in terms of people going in and out of the jail,” he said.

The amount of people getting bailed out of jail who are suspected of crimes has increased in the state for another reason, the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF). The nonprofit’s mission is to cover bail costs and immigration bonds for people who can’t afford it. It got a massive fundraising boost following George Floyd’s death when protesters were arrested, with donors handing over money to help get protesters out of jail. According to a MFF spokesperson, the organization spent $19 million on criminal bail and immigration bonds for more than 900 people since May 2020.

Critics of MFF are concerned with who the organization is choosing to bail out. In August 2020, a man was charged in an assault that caused traumatic brain injury to a victim just weeks after he was bailed out of jail by MFF for another alleged crime.

“We do not make determinations of bail support based solely on the crimes that individuals are alleged to have committed,” a spokesperson said. “We do go through a process to determine if someone is eligible for our support, and we continue to center and prioritize the following groups in our bail payment: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color), those experiencing homelessness, people arrested who live in Minnesota, those who have been detained while fighting for justice … We are also working towards expanding programming that would follow up with and offer additional support to individuals we help bail out.”

The Minnesota Freedom Fund says they did not pay Carroll’s bail in previous cases. MFF has no connection to Carroll.

Moriarty supports MFF, saying it’s important to have organizations that can help people who cannot afford bail. Tamburino agrees with MFF when it comes to first or second time offenders for low level offenses.

“But when you start bailing out people who are accused of very serious crimes, that becomes a serious matter,” Tamburino added.

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Carroll’s bond for the murder charges was set at $1 million. He makes his first court appearance Thursday.

Jeff Wagner