Waukesha district attorney blames Darrell Brooks' minuscule bail on 'overworked' assistant DA

Brooks' mother, others argue defendant being out on $500 bail is part of a systemic problem within legal system.
Waukesha parade massacre defendant Darrell Brooks appears in court.
Mark Hoffman-Pool/Getty Images

The Milwaukee County district attorney says a young and overworked assistant district attorney was so overwhelmed by her caseload that she failed to look at the pretrial risk assessment for Darrell Brooks Jr. and set his bail at just $1,000.

Days later, Brooks was behind bars on charges related to him driving his SUV through a town Christmas parade, killing six and injuring dozens more.

County District Attorney John Chisholm said Thursday the assistant DA had been on the job for two-and-a-half-years and had seen that Brooks' bail had been set at $500 in a pending case in which he had been accused of firing a gun at his nephew and another individual, so she doubled it.

His bail in that case had been reduced from $7,500 to $500 because it was delayed due to the pandemic backlog, therefore compromising his right to a speedy trial.

"That's human error," he said. "It set in motion a chain of events that resulted in a tragedy. Again, I’m not trying to lessen our responsibility for that, but that’s it. In essence, that's what you had here, a young ADA trying to do the best she could under tough circumstances and she made a mistake."  

While Chisholm defends the "tough circumstances" of the assistant prosecutor, Brooks' mother released a letter earlier this week in which she blamed "the system" for failing to appropriately deal with her son's mental health problems, therefore leading him into a life of extensive crime. 

"Mental illness is real, and the system is broken it can and must be fixed NOW, not next year or with a new legislation NOW," wrote Dawn Woods. "So many like Darrell that have fallen through the cracks because of a broken system that no one cared to address, can get the help they so desperately need."