The Milwaukee district attorney’s office will investigate whether its hiring and evaluation process violated state law when it recommended freeing a convicted murderer while his case remained pending.
The district attorney’s office reviewed the long-pending case of Darrell Brooks, accused of fatally shooting a 10-year-old boy in his home during a Christmas shopping trip in 2011. Milwaukee police had charged Brooks with first-degree intentional homicide and two felony weapons counts. When prosecutors dismissed the cases in 2014, Brooks left prison, but he was still behind bars after being arrested for violating his parole and caught with a loaded gun.
The district attorney’s office later recommended to the court that the gun charge be dismissed, but ultimately the Milwaukee County judge held Brooks in jail and ordered him to have another trial. Brooks was freed in June.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who is also a Democrat, said Saturday in a statement that his office would “address the ongoing questions regarding the decision to release” Brooks from prison.
“As the investigation continues, I have asked the district attorney’s administration to conduct an independent review of our hiring, evaluation and office monitoring processes in this matter,” Chisholm said.
The Assembly approved a bill last week aimed at reforming the state’s bail system. The legislation would give judges discretion when it comes to releasing defendants from jail on their own recognizance, for example. It also would require an ankle monitor to be installed in defendants who are held without bail.
“This is a very serious tragedy,” said Rep. David Bowen, a Milwaukee Democrat who sponsored the bill. “I’ve been very distressed by some of the results of having an arbitrary system of charging, of bail and of release. This clearly was one of those tragedies. Obviously, the care and treatment of the person involved is of extreme concern.”
Chisholm also appointed the Justice Center, a public defender agency, to assist with the investigation.
Brooks had posted $200,000 bond. A recent search of his home found two loaded guns. Brooks’ defense attorney said Brooks would have been able to get the guns back if he had been released.
According to a sheriff’s department report, the boy, Zaire Brown, was in his grandmother’s apartment with Brooks’ 14-year-old son and another boy when Brooks walked into the apartment with a rifle. The son pulled his knife, then told Brooks to leave. When he arrived home he found Brooks had used the boy’s guitar pick to fatally shoot his 10-year-old son. Brooks ran away in the family’s car and was caught and apprehended after a brief police chase. Brooks was sentenced to life in prison in April.