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Waiter shot 11 times suing bail reform group that helped client get out of jail

Updated December 23, 2022 - 8:01 pm

A lawyer for a Las Vegas man who was shot multiple times by a burglar in 2021 said Friday that a California nonprofit posted the shooter’s bail without considering whether the assailant might commit another crime given his background.

Restaurant waiter Chengyan Wang is suing The Bail Project and two other defendants in District Court after suffering 11 gunshot wounds at the hands of Rashawn Gaston-Anderson, 24. Gaston-Anderson was sentenced this month to seven to 18 years in prison for the shooting.

“He’s got scars all over his body,” Wang’s lawyer Kory Kaplan said. “He can’t move his shoulder over a certain height. I don’t know how (the bullets) missed a vital artery.”

Gaston-Anderson shot Wang after storming in and holding up the ShangHai Taste eatery, 4266 Spring Mountain Road, at the Shanghai Plaza mall in Chinatown, on Dec. 20, 2021. Wang was alone when Gaston-Anderson entered the Chinese restaurant with a firearm.

Incredibly, Wang survived the 11-shot barrage but remains under medical treatment and has suffered lifelong permanent injuries, according to Kaplan.

The Bail Project, Shanghai Plaza owner U.S. Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp., of Las Vegas, and Gaston-Anderson are defendants in the Wang’s lawsuit, which seeks more than $15,000 in damages from each for his pain and suffering.

Kaplan alleges that the plaza’s property owner, U.S. Hui De Real Estate Investment Corp., is liable for not providing adequate security at the time Wang was shot.

Its Las Vegas legal adviser, listed as Eric K. Chen on a company online brochure, could not to be reached for comment Friday.

The Bail Project, which advocates against the cash bail system nationwide and provides free bail funds for the poor and indigent, paid for Gaston-Anderson’s exit from jail on Dec. 14, just six days before the mall shooting, by furnishing the $3,000 cash for his release after his arrests, over a 48-hour period, for burglary and grand larceny.

At the time bail was posted, the project failed to assess the suspect’s potential danger to the community considering his pending and past cases, including burglary of a business, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, two counts of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny, according to Wang’s lawsuit.

The nonprofit group also never registered as a bail agent with Nevada’s Division of Insurance, which is required under state law under penalty of a misdemeanor, Kaplan said.

“They’re going around as a bailing agency bailing people out with no or little due diligence,” Kaplan said.

A spokesperson for The Bail Project could not be reached by phone at its main business office in Pasadena, California.

In a general email in response to an inquiry, the project described what it does as a bail reform organization, but did not answer a question about whether the group still operates in Las Vegas, where it had maintained an office.

The group’s website listed its locations in cities throughout the country but did not show having one in Las Vegas.

A Google search of “The Bail Project Las Vegas” produced a page with a “404” message and “…sorry, the page you are looking for cannot be found.”

On its main website, the organization says it “combats mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system— one person at a time.”

“We restore the presumption of innocence, reunite families, and challenge a system that criminalizes race and poverty,” it said. “We’re on a mission to end cash bail and create a more just, equitable, and humane pretrial system.”

In a statement filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis in May, David Gaspar, the project’s national director of operations, said the group had posted free bail for 22,000 low-income people as of December 2021, with more than 72,000 court dates and an appearance rate of 92 percent.

In deciding whether to post bail for someone, the project “considers a variety of factors in addition to the person’s specific charges because people held on bail are presumed innocent by law and have been deemed to be eligible for pretrial release, contingent on the payment of bail, by a judge,” Gaspar wrote.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.co. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on Twitter.

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