'Inappropriately low' bail set for Darrell Brooks, man in custody connected to Waukesha parade tragedy
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Waukesha Police Department is referring five counts of intentional homicide for the man accused of ramming his SUV into the Waukesha Christmas Parade. Those charges carry possible life sentences, and there is the possibility more charges will be filed as the investigation progresses.
But this was not the first time Darrell Brooks allegedly ran over someone with his car. Just three weeks ago he ran over a woman he had a child with. But at the time his bail was set at just $1,000. He paid it and was released.
Now the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office is conducting an internal review into why the bail was set "inappropriately low."
Justice Janine Geske, who was on the Wisconsin Supreme Court from 1993-1998, explained, "There are hundreds and hundreds of cases in Milwaukee County. Even the backlog of full homicides is tremendous at this point."
Heavy caseloads often put significant pressure on those tasked with setting bail. Justice Geske says the District Attorney's office recommends the bail amount to a court commissioner before it's approved by a judge. "It is not unusual for a court commissioner to be setting 30, 40, 50 cases of bail on a day."
The bail amount is supposed to consider a person's prior record, their character, whether they might flee, and whether they might commit a crime while out on bail. Justice Geske says Brooks had plenty of red flags three weeks ago when his bail was set at just $1,000, after he ran over the mother of his child November 2nd.
Brooks was arrested and charged with five counts, including second degree recklessly endangering safety and bail jumping, both felony charges. But he paid the $1,000 bail and was released November 11th, ten days before the Waukesha parade.
The District Attorney's office now says in a statement, "the bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office toward matters involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail."
Justice Geske says a judge must rely on the DA's office, which is usually the party with the most information about the person's criminal history, flight risk, and risk of recidivism. "Unfortunately, sometimes it's going to be set low and an offender is going to go off. It's the same thing as putting someone on probation: they may go off and commit a crime. And we can't prevent all that. But this one seemed substantially lower than it should have been."
We reached out to the DA's office with several questions about the case three weeks ago and the prosecutor that set the bail amount. We also reached out to Darrell Brooks' attorney and the judge in that case. We have not yet heard back from any of them.
Brooks will make his first court appearance Tuesday at 4 p.m. for the alleged crimes committed at the parade.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm criticized his office in a statement saying in part, "the state's bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low," and his office is currently conducting an internal review. Read the full statement below.
Brooks has a lengthy criminal record. Below are court records from two incidents where Brooks was charged in July of 2020 and November of 2021; they include second degree recklessly endangering safety, obstructing an officer, possession of a firearm by a felon, disorderly conduct, battery, and more.