Prosecutors add dozens of charges in Wisconsin parade deaths
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A man accused of driving an SUV through a Wisconsin Christmas parade crashed into people head-on, ran them over as they lay on the ground and at one point leaned out his window to steer because someone had landed on his windshield and was blocking his view, prosecutors alleged Wednesday in a criminal complaint that levies dozens of new charges against him.
Darrell Brooks Jr. steered the Ford Escape for five blocks through the parade route in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha on Nov. 21, killing six people and injuring dozens more, according to the complaint. It cites police estimates that the SUV reached speeds of up to 25 mph and says some people landed on the hood, with Brooks carrying them along.
“All of the victims who were killed and most of the people that were injured were walking right down the middle of the road in plain view,” the complaint said. “(The street) was clearly closed to traffic, there were barricades in place and police present to direct motorists for the entire length of the parade route.”
Just minutes before driving through the parade, Brooks beat up the mother of his child because she had not bailed him out of jail several days earlier after he was arrested for running her over with the same SUV, the complaint said.
Prosecutors charged Brooks with six counts of homicide two days after the parade. They added 71 new charges against him Wednesday, including multiple counts of reckless endangerment, hit-and-run involving death, battery and bail jumping. He's set to appear in court Friday for a preliminary hearing, the step in the criminal justice process where a judge decides whether there's enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Brooks' ex-girlfriend told investigators that he broke her leg when he ran her over in early November. He walked out of jail two days before the parade after posting $1,000 bail.
The woman told investigators that the day of the parade, she met Brooks at a Waukesha park and got into the SUV, where they argued about why she didn't bail him out of jail. He drove her around, steering with one hand and punching her in the face with the other, the complaint filed Wednesday said.
Minutes after she got out of the SUV, he drove drove into the parade, according to the complaint.
The ex-girlfriend added that the Escape belonged to Brooks' mother but that he lived in the vehicle.
After he went through the parade, Brooks drove through a backyard, the complaint said. He abandoned the SUV and asked a homeowner to help him. Police captured him at that house.
Brooks’ attorney, public defender Jeremy Perri, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has taken intense criticism for allowing his office to recommend Brooks' bail be set at $1,000 in the domestic violence case. Chisholm had said that was a mistake, made by an overworked assistant prosecutor who never saw an evaluation of the dangers Brooks could pose to the community because the assessment was never entered into the district attorney's office's computer system.
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