Darrell E. Brooks, Jr., was fleeing the scene of a domestic disturbance when he allegedly drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing five people and injuring 48 others.
No words can describe the tragedy experienced by the parade victims and their families but it is important to note what preceded the event.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that just before the parade attack, Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance, the details of which are unknown at this point.
Brooks was released on $1,000 bail less than two weeks before the parade after he allegedly used his SUV to run over a woman who says she is the mother of his child. CNN states the criminal complaint notes: “Officers observed tire tracks on her left pants leg.”
The low bail indicates that prosecutors did not treat that crime seriously, possibly because it involved domestic abuse, which historically has been minimized and overlooked because most victims are female.
Until the 1980s, police routinely failed to arrest domestic violence perpetrators, telling them to walk around the block and cool off.
Brooks was not charged with attempted homicide for allegedly running his girlfriend over with a car, a felony that potentially carries a prison sentence of decades.
Instead, Brooks was charged with domestic abuse, which is defined in Wisconsin as “intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness” against an adult with whom the person resides, formerly resided or with whom the person has a child in comment. He also was charged second-degree recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct, felony bail jumping and resisting a police officer.
Brooks posted the $1,000 bail. It is not known whether Brooks used the services of a bail bonds company, which charges $100 for a $1,000 bail bond.
The bail is so grossly disproportionate to the circumstances of Brooks’ alleged motor vehicle assault on his girlfriend that District Attorney John T. Chisholm felt compelled to issue a statement in the aftermath of the parade debacle:
” The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee Country District Attorney’s Officer toward matters involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant.”
Chisholm said his office is conducting an internal review.
It remains to be seen whether Milwaukee County will face a slew of lawsuits by parade victims and their families for the gross negligence.
Police did not begin taking domestic violence seriously in the United States until the mid-1980s, when Tracey Thurman, a homemaker, sued the Torrington, police department for failing to protect her from her abusive husband, Charles “Buck” Thurman.
After police repeatedly ignoring her pleas for help, her husband violated a restraining order and stabbed her twelve times. She lost 80% of her motor skills in the attack but survived.
Thurman sued the city and 24 of its police officers for failing to arrest her husband, alleging a violation of her constitution right to equal protection under the law. The court awarded her $2.3 million in damages.