District Attorney Blames Low Bail for Waukesha Suspect on Human Error

Darrell Brooks appears in Waukesha County Court in Waukesha, Wis., November 23, 2021. (Mark Hoffman/Pool via Reuters)

The Milwaukee County, Wis., district attorney said an assistant prosecutor set $1,000 bail for Darrell Brooks Jr., who allegedly drove his car into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, killing six and injuring over 60, because she didn’t have access to a risk assessment of the suspect and was overworked.

D.A. John Chisolm said the decision to set low bail for Brooks, which he posted days before allegedly attacking parade participants, was a result of “human error,” in comments to the county judiciary committee on Wednesday.

Chisolm said the assistant prosecutor who set Brooks’s bail was in charge of two dozen other felony cases, a jury trial, and had been working in the county district attorney’s office for two and a half years. Additionally, a risk assessment of Brooks had not been uploaded to the DA office system, so the prosecutor had no access to it.

“Given the volume of cases she was dealing with, given her jury trial that she was working on, she simply charged the case. She looked at the previous bail, saw that it was $500, and she doubled it. That’s it. That’s a mistake. That’s human error,” Chisolm said.

“Again, I’m not trying to lessen our responsibility for that, but that’s it,” Chisolm added. “In essence, that’s what you had here, a young [assistant district attorney] trying to do the best she could under tough circumstances, and she made a mistake.”

Brooks was initially charged with five counts of homicide, with a sixth added after an eight-year-old child died of injuries suffered during the parade. The suspect has been arrested multiple times, and he posted bail twice previously in Wisconsin despite an active warrant for his arrest from Nevada authorities.

Chisolm has previously advocated diverting nonviolent offenders to treatment programs in place of prison, although he admitted that someone diverted may end up killing another person, in a 2007 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody?” Chisholm said at the time. “You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.