By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Oops.
That’s effectively how Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm explained the $1,000 bail his office requested for a career violent criminal who walked out of jail 10 days before he is accused of going on a vehicular rampage that killed six people and injured scores more.
Chisholm on Thursday told a Milwaukee County committee that human error led to what he himself has described as “inappropriately low” bail for Darrell. E. Brooks. The 39-year-old Milwaukee man has been charged with six counts of intentional homicide and a host of other charges after police say he drove his SUV through the crowd at last month’s Waukesha Christmas parade.
“I want to make it clear that there are explanations for what happened, but there are no excuses,” Chisholm told the members of the Milwaukee County Board’s Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee.
Chisholm said a prosecutor in his office did not have access to the updated public safety assessment on Brooks before making the head-scratching bail recommendation. He said the assistant DA simply doubled the $500 bail amount set for Brooks after he was arrested in connection with a previous violent incident.
The “human error” explanation may come as little consolation to a city still grieving, still trying to come to terms with a gruesome nightmare.
It’s also hard to understand. Brooks was well known in Milwaukee County’s revolving door criminal justice system. In early November, less than three weeks before the Waukesha parade, Brooks had been arrested on charges of Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Battery, Obstructing an Officer, and Bail Jumping. In that incident, Brooks was accused of running over his ex-girlfriend, the wife of his child — with the same SUV he used to mow down parade-goers.
He was already a clear risk to society and a severe flight risk.
His rap sheet is long and violent. Brooks is a convicted sex offender who is wanted in Nevada on an active warrant for failing to obey sex offender laws, Fox News reported. He was sentenced to probation but was arrested for failure to obey sex offender laws in 2016. Brooks then jumped bail on that charge and never appeared in court.
On July 28, 2020, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office charged Brooks with two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court documents. He’s accused of shooting at his nephew. Cash bail originally was set at $10,000, but subsequently reduced to $7,500.
Six months later, Brooks was still in prison (he couldn’t make bail) awaiting a speedy trial. Because another trial was in progress before the same court, the case was adjourned and bail was reduced to $500. Brooks paid that and was out on the streets again.
For a guy who wasn’t going to make excuses, Chisholm offered a lot of excuses. He and other Milwaukee County “progressive” justice officials blamed the Legislature for not providing enough funding. They said prosecutors and the courts are overwhelmed. Perhaps that has something to do with having to prosecute and try a long train of repeat offenders who are repeatedly unloosed on society under Chisholm’s brand of “progressive justice.”
Chisholm also said the assistant DA, who’s been with the office for about 2 1/2 years, did the “best she could” under difficult circumstances.
“She made a mistake,” the DA said.
Watch the video of the meeting here.