Waukesha Christmas parade suspect skated an overwhelmed justice system on technicalities & oversights

NOW: Waukesha Christmas parade suspect skated an overwhelmed justice system on technicalities & oversights

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Darrell Brooks, the suspect in the Waukesha parade attack, is now in jail on $5 million cash bail, but prior to Sunday, Brooks was out on $1,000 cash bail, even though he has a lengthy criminal record and faces two separate felony cases in Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said in a statement Monday that $1,000 cash bail was inappropriately low and the office is doing an internal review.

But a deeper look at this case shows Brooks skated the justice system on technicalities and oversights over the course of several years.

Brooks has more than a dozen convictions, across three states, in the last two decades.

"There’s a long history of flight, obstructing, bail jumping type behavior," Waukesha District Attorney Susan Opper said in court Tuesday.

At the time of Sunday's attack, Brooks was out on bail in two Milwaukee cases, the first from 2020. Brooks allegedly got into a fight with his nephew and fired a gun at his nephew and another person as they drove away.

Brooks was jailed on $10,000 cash bond, which was then reduced to $7,500 cash. Brooks requested a speedy trial, which according to Wisconsin statute, means the case had to be heard within 90 days. But that didn't happen. According to a statement from Chisholm, the state was ready for trial but the judge was in the middle of another case.

Legal expert Julius Kim says the justice system is backed up, in part because of court closures coupled with a spike in crime during the pandemic.

"We have this bottleneck situation where all these cases, these new cases, older cases, are trying to work through the system," Kim said. "And the judges and prosecutors is doing their best to keep up with the volume."

Since the speedy trial demand was not met, bail was reduced to $500 and Brooks got out in February of 2021.

On Nov. 2, Brooks allegedly tried to run the mother of his child over with a car. Bail in that case was set at $1,000 cash. Brooks posted the bail and got out just days before allegedly running down dozens at the Waukesha Christmas parade.

Chisholm says the bail was inappropriately low and an internal review is underway.

"I don't think this case -- and while it appears like it at first blush, isn't a breakdown in the criminal justice system," Kim said. "This was an isolated incident that really happened as a culmination of a lot of pressures on the criminal justice system right now due to COVID."

There is also an active warrant for Brooks' arrest in Nevada, after he violated sex offender registry requirements in 2016. Since that warrant was issued, Brooks has been arrested multiple times in Georgia and Wisconsin. But it's unclear if anyone in either state was aware he was wanted out West.

A spokesman for Chisholm says they are still reviewing what happened, and he expects Chisholm will sit down with CBS 58 next week and give us some answers.

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