Low bail for Waukesha suspect ahead of parade tragedy was the result of 'human error': DA

District Attorney John Chisholm said the release of a man accused of running over holiday parade attendees in Waukesha was the result of "human error" by an early-career prosecutor.

(CNN)The Milwaukee district attorney whose office sought low bail leading to the release of a man accused of running over holiday parade attendees last month said Thursday he has determined that it was the result of "human error" that "set in motion a chain of events that resulted in a tragedy."

District Attorney John Chisholm faced questions from officials during a Milwaukee County Board Judiciary and Public Safety Committee meeting to explain why Darrell E. Brooks, 39, was allowed to be released on $1,000 cash bail just over two weeks before he allegedly killed six people and wounded more than 60 others by plowing an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade on November 21. Brooks has been charged with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the incident.
An assistant prosecutor who was assigned to a domestic violence case against Brooks was handling a jury trial and almost two dozen felony cases when she reviewed Brooks' most recently posted bail, which was $500, related to a reckless endangerment charge, Chisholm said. The unidentified assistant district attorney, who was overloaded with cases, decided to double the bail amount to $1,000, he added.
The mistake by the assistant district attorney was due to her not having access to a critical risk assessment for Brooks because it had not yet been uploaded to the office's case management system, he said.
Chisholm, who has been a longtime champion of efforts to reduce mass incarceration by using the discretion afforded to prosecutors, said that a higher cash bail should have been recommended for Brooks.
"Given the volume of cases she was dealing with, she simply charged the case, she looked at the previous bail, and saw that it was $500 and she doubled it," he continued. "That's a mistake. That's human error. It set in motion a chain of events that resulted in a tragedy."
"I put the finger on myself and that's my obligation, that's my responsibility," Chisholm added.
He said that his office will employ a process called sentinel event review to learn from the errors in the case through an ongoing practice that examines the causes, successes and failures of an incident.
When he ran for office in 2006, the district attorney committed to a program that seeks to connect individuals charged with low-level offenses to services that matched their assessed risk and divert people determined to be high-risk, such as violent offenders. Chisholm said Thursday that this system was in place when Brooks was released and "should have been followed."
"There was a public safety assessment that was done that characterized this situation as a high-risk situation. Our default position in this case because of the laws in Wisconsin is that we recommend higher amounts of cash," he said, in describing what should have happened in Brooks' case.

Suspect was out on bail for two allegations of violence

Brooks, who is the lone suspect in the Waukesha tragedy, was out on bail for two separate allegations of violence, including using a car to run over a woman while she was walking through a gas station parking lot, according to a criminal complaint. The woman told authorities she was the mother of his child, according to the criminal complaint.
Brooks faced five charges related to the incident, including domestic abuse, and was also charged with bail jumping because he was already out on bail in connection with a separate incident in July 2020, court documents say. In the 2020 incident, Brooks was accused of firing a handgun during an argument and was charged with two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety while using a dangerous weapon and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Bail had initially been set at $10,000 in that case, but because Brooks had asked for a speedy jury trial -- which could not be met -- bail was reduced to $500. He was then released on bail in that case on February 21, the