The man accused driving his SUV into the Waukesha Christmas parade had been released earlier on “inappropriately low” bail as a result of “human error” by a young prosecutor, the Milwaukee County district attorney said Thursday.
Darrell Brooks, 39, who is charged with six counts of intentional homicide over the deadly crash in Waukesha that also left 48 injured, should have been behind bars following an arrest earlier in November, officials have acknowledged.
Brooks was out on $1,000 cash bail at the time of the Nov. 21 parade rampage after he allegedly punched the mother of his child and purposefully ran her “over with his vehicle” in a Milwaukee gas station parking lot on Nov. 2, according to court documents.
He ended up being charged with recklessly endangering safety, bail jumping, battery and disorderly conduct in the incident but was given an “inappropriately low” bail of $1,000, Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm later said, leaving him free to wreak havoc on the Christmas parade.
On Thursday, Chisholm blamed the low bail on an early-career assistant DA who was overloaded with cases and did not have access to a critical risk assessment for Brooks because it had not yet been uploaded to the office’s case management system, CNN reported.
The DA said a public safety assessment characterized Brooks’ case as a high-risk situation.
He said a higher cash bail should have been recommended for Brooks and that the error “set in motion a chain of events that resulted in a tragedy,” adding that his office will use a process called sentinel event review to learn from such errors.
Chisholm then told Fox 6 Now he takes responsibility for the error — before blaming the young staffer again.
“I’m not here to make excuses. I own any decision that’s made by any member of my office. When I first ran in 2007, l made a promise to the community to identify people by risk,” Chisholm told the outlet.
But, he added: “You had a young ADA trying to do the very best she could under difficult circumstances, and she made a mistake.”
The DA also brushed aside calls for his resignation.
“When things get tough, when tough things occur, the response shouldn’t be to quit, to run away from the problem,” he said, according to Fox 6 Now. “The obligation I have is to lead my people so they can continuing doing the work they do every single day, which is trying to keep people safe.”
Meanwhile, Brooks also has another pending case in Milwaukee from July 2020 in which he is charged with reckless endangering and illegal possession of a firearm, court documents show.
Police said they were called to his home after he allegedly fired his gun during a dispute with his nephew on July 24. His cash bail in that case was initially set at $10,000 before being reduced to $7,500, the DA’s office has said.
The bail was then reduced again to just $500, which he posted, after the case was adjourned because his demand for a speedy jury trial could not be met.
Chisholm, who has been the DA for the past 14 years, has been a longtime advocate of efforts to reduce mass incarceration by using prosecutorial discretion, according to CNN.
Brooks is currently being held on $5 million bail in a Wisconsin jail and faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.