Waukesha crash: Child becomes sixth death victim
WAUKESHA, WIS. Wisconsin prosecutors on Tuesday charged a man with attempted murder in the deaths of five people when an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade that also injured 62 people, including there are many children.
Prosecutors say a sixth person, a child, is dead and many other charges are pending.
Darrell Brooks Jr. is charged with five counts of attempted murder in a crash that occurred Sunday in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb. Convicted of first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence, Wisconsin’s heaviest punishment.
Brooks made his first appearance in court on Tuesday. He can be heard crying throughout the proceedings, leaning over almost with his head in his lap, with the lawyer resting his hand on his back.
City live streams and bystanders’ videos captured the chaos as an SUV sped along the parade route and into the crowd. Some of the injured are still in critical condition.
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses told police that the vehicle “appeared to be moving sideways intentionally” and did not attempt to slow down or stop because it hit several people and blew bodies away. and objects.
The criminal complaint says a police officer shot at the vehicle, assaulting it three times, and a detective stepped in front of Brooks’ car and banged on the hood, shouting “Stop” several times but Brooks drove past him. The complaint said the detective was wearing a police badge and neon orange protective vest.
Brooks was released on $1,000 bail for a Milwaukee County case earlier in November in which he was accused of intentionally assaulting a woman with his vehicle. Prosecutors said they were investigating their bail offer in that case, calling it an inappropriately low level.
One pending case against Brooks includes an allegation that he intentionally hit a woman with his vehicle in early November following an altercation. Milwaukee County prosecutors on Monday called their bail recommendation “inappropriately low” based on the facts of that case and Sunday’s crash, and said they would look into it. again.
Julius Kim, a defense attorney and former assistant prosecutor, said bail could easily be set at more than double.
“He was accused of running on top of his kid’s mother and putting it at $1,000 made me look low,” Kim said. “It could have been an inexperienced attorney who happened to be reviewing the cases that day.”
Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said Brooks, 39, was leaving the scene of a domestic dispute that had taken place minutes earlier when he drove onto the parade route.
Brooks has been charged more than a dozen times since 1999 and has two outstanding cases against him at the time of the marching disaster. That includes resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, jumping bail and batteries for the November 2 incident.
Legal experts warn that an extreme case should not be a reason to push for a higher bail amount that would leave poorer defendants behind bars longer while they await trial.
“We don’t want a knee-jerk reaction here and say, ‘Let’s lock up as many people as we can before we do this,'” said John Gross, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Law and director of the Public Defender Project. judge.
“I’m sure the district attorney’s office will look at this again and wonder: ` `Have we done this wrong?”, said Gross, a law school professor. seriously ΓÇª could they reasonably expect that he would get in the back of a car and run people through the parade? What would alert you to the possibility he might have for this kind of violence?”
Some Republicans were quick to jump on the case as an example of a broken legal system.
Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, a former Wisconsin governor who is running for governor in 2022, called the killings “another avoidable tragedy that happened because a violent criminal was allowed to walk freely and terrorize our community.”
And Republican Representative Cindi Duchow said she is reintroducing a constitutional amendment that would change the bail process in Wisconsin to allow judges to consider the danger a defendant poses to the community. when placing a guarantee. Judges are currently only allowed to consider the possibility that the defendants may not appear in court when placing bail.
Duchow said: “He was trying to run past his girlfriend in his car – it was a murder plot. “If you are a danger to society, you must try to get out.”
Thompson, the police chief, said there was no evidence that Sunday’s bloodshed was a terrorist attack or that Brooks knew anyone at the parade. Brooks acted alone, the sheriff said.
Brooks had left the site of the domestic disturbance before officers arrived, and was not being pursued by police at the time of the crash, according to the sheriff, who gave no further details about the incident. challenge.
NBC News released video of the doorbell camera appearing to capture Brooks’ arrest. It shows Brooks, shivering in just a T-shirt, knocking on a homeowner’s door and asking for help calling a ride. Moments later, police surrounded the house and shouted, “Hands up!” Brooks, standing on the porch, raised his hand and said, “Whoa whoa!”
Hundreds of people gathered at a downtown park Monday night in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for a candlelit vigil in honor of those lost and wounded. A pair of missionaries solemnly read the names of the dead. Volunteers distributed sandwiches, hot chocolate and candles during the vigil, attended by interfaith leaders and elected officials.
“We’re parents. We’re neighbors. We’re hurt. We’re angry. We’re sad. We’re confused. We’re grateful. We’re all in this together. We’re all here. I am the Strong Waukesha,” a tearful Amanda Medina Roddy told the Waukesha School District.
Mayor Shawn Reilly described the parade as a “Norman Rockwell-style” event that had “become a nightmare.”
Bauer reports from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press journalist Doug Glass contributes from Minneapolis.