The case against Darrell Brooks, the man accused in Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy, is going to trial




  • In US
  • 2022-01-14 20:48:57Z
  • By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WAUKESHA - Despite reportedly telling police "I didn't mean to kill nobody," Darrell Brooks Jr. will face the full force of 77 charges tied to the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Commissioner Kevin Costello ruled Friday that the case against Brooks, 39, of Milwaukee will proceed to trial.

Now faced with dozens of new criminal charges, Brooks' day in court this week carried an even deeper legal tone than his first appearance weeks earlier.

At a preliminary hearing in Waukesha County Circuit Court, Brooks - initially charged with six counts of intentional homicide tied to the parade deaths - now faces a much longer list of criminal counts. They include lesser charges related to those deaths as well as two misdemeanor counts stemming from domestic incidents that immediately preceded the parade.

More: Our coverage of the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy

Abandoned chairs, blankets and other items remain along W.
Abandoned chairs, blankets and other items remain along W.  

Following testimony from one police detective who led the investigation into the Nov. 21 incident in downtown Waukesha, Costello said there was probable cause that Brooks should be bound over for trial.

"There is ample evidence on all fronts," Costello said.

Waukesha detective shares his account of the tragedy

In court Friday, Waukesha District Attorney Sue Opper and Brooks' attorney Anna Kees took turns addressing the six dozen new charges that were filed Wednesday afternoon as well as the specifics of the allegations included in the original criminal complaint.

Opper called the state's only witness, Thomas Casey, the Waukesha police detective who was on site when Brooks allegedly drove past squad cars and barricades on Main Street and began striking those marching in or watching the holiday parade.

In response to Opper's questions, Casey described what he witnessed as Brooks' red SUV was seen weaving through the parade, striking at least 67 people between Barstow Street and West Avenue.

Darrell Brooks Jr.
Darrell Brooks Jr.  

Much of what is alleged was captured in numerous videos gathered from residents, businesses and city cameras along the downtown route, he said. "We have 65 different files, each containing multiple videos," Casey said.

"Initially, as the vehicle is traveling on Main Street, I'd say between White Rock (Avenue) and Barstow Street, the vehicle stayed on the north side of the roadway," he recalled, summarizing the videos. "As it's driving, it's beeping its horn, slowing down. Once it crosses Barstow Street, the vehicle continues driving at a faster speed ... and begins to do a zig-zagging motion through the crowd."

The video shows the red SUV "hitting people, running people over," he said, noting that the vehicle increased its speed near Clinton Street. "It appears that the vehicle is intentionally aiming for people."

Casey, who at one point was standing in front of the vehicle, said he clearly saw Brooks driving the vehicle, which continued even after another officer later fired his gun at the SUV.

More: $5.6 million has been raised so far for Waukesha Parade tragedy victims. Here's how to apply for assistance if you've been affected.

More: The temporary Waukesha Christmas Parade Tragedy memorial was taken down Wednesday. Next, a commission will create a permanent memorial

More: Pastors of churches affected by Waukesha parade tragedy share messages of hope, community healing ahead of Christmas

Kees likewise posed numerous questions about the details of the parade, some of which offered hints about what issues the defense could raise during a trial.

She asked Casey to confirm whether the officers who arrested Brooks in fact smelled marijuana and saw the glassy look in his eyes at the time, and whether he was immediately questioned by authorities. She also asked if Casey noticed whether Brooks tried to avoid striking those in and along the parade route as he drove on Main Street.

But she saved the most critical question for last.

"Mr. Brooks indicated to one of the detectives that, quote, 'I didn't mean to kill nobody,' end quote, is that correct?" Kees asked Casey.

"I believe that is the quote," Casey replied.

Kees, who did not call any of her own witnesses, objected to the motion for Brooks to be bound over for trial but offered no specifics.

New details in the case

Friday's hearing was merely the latest in a series of news events that began with the Nov. 21 Waukesha Christmas Parade, an annual celebration the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

To date, all that is known about the incident comes from investigators and witnesses, including those incorporated in the original criminal complaint filed Nov. 23 and amended twice through Jan. 12.

According to the latest version of the complaint, Brooks, previously accused in early November in Milwaukee of a domestic assault involving his girlfriend, drove off angrily after another physical confrontation with the woman at Frame Park in Waukesha the day of the parade.

More: Bail for Waukesha parade suspect Darrell Brooks was lower than average, analysis shows

More: Milwaukee district attorney responds to the outrage over $1,000 bail for Darrell Brooks

Those confrontations, which resulted in the amended domestic abuse battery charges, ended when the woman got out of of Brooks' red SUV outside the Waukesha East Alternative School about 4:30 p.m., just blocks away from the parade that was underway at the time.

The complaint alleges Brooks drove past barricades and, instead of turning away from the parade, suddenly accelerated his vehicle and seemingly weaved through the crowd with the intention of striking parade participants and bystanders.

Six died as a result of their injuries, and dozens more were hurt.

Brooks himself was arrested later that evening on Elizabeth Street, shortly after his vehicle was abandoned in the driveway of a home on Maple Avenue. He remains in custody on $5 million bail.

Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly tidies up a temporary memorial for Christmas parade victims on Dec.
Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly tidies up a temporary memorial for Christmas parade victims on Dec.  

The incident resulted in a temporary memorial downtown along the parade route, several vigils, numerous religious sermons and victim support fundraisers.

It also raised a controversy involving the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, which has been criticized for its role in setting a $1,000 bail term on Brooks' release from the Milwaukee incident involving his girlfriend. He is accused on striking her with his vehicle, breaking one of her legs, following an argument.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who has also weathered calls for his resignation as well as an effort to have him removed from office by Gov. Tony Evers, acknowledged the bail amount was "inappropriately" low. (Evers said the complaint asking for him to remove Chisholm was legally insufficient to allow him to act on it.)

As for Brooks' ongoing legal proceedings, he is expected back in court at 10:15 a.m. Feb. 11 to be arraigned on all charges.

Contact Jim Riccioli at (262) 446-6635 or james.riccioli@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jariccioli.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Darrell Brooks bound over for trial in Waukesha Christmas Parade case

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