This story was republished on Jan. 17, 2022 to make it free for all readers.
The woman who Darrell Brooks Jr. is charged with punching in the face and then running over with an SUV at a Milwaukee gas station in early November told police she thought Brooks was trying to kill her.
It followed a series of other violent incidents involving Brooks against her, according to police reports.
After the gas station incident, officers found Brooks outside his mother’s home and he ran from them before he was arrested, according to the reports. The reports also indicate Brooks, 39, suffers from mental health issues for which he is supposed to be taking medication.
It was the latest in a litany of criminal cases against Brooks who was charged Tuesday in the deaths of five people and the injury of dozens when he barreled through the Christmas parade Sunday evening in Waukesha, according to a criminal complaint.
MORE COVERAGE: What we know about the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy
Prosecutors said a sixth homicide charge is forthcoming, after an 8-year-old boy died Tuesday afternoon. Each count, if Brooks is convicted, carries a mandatory life sentence.
Waukesha police say they believe Brooks had been involved in a domestic violence incident in Waukesha before he smashed through a barricade and into the parade route.
The police reports from the Nov. 2 incident, obtained Tuesday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, provide fresh details into the alleged assault at the gas station.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office has come under intense scrutiny for the decision of one of its prosecutors to seek cash bail of $1,000 in the case. Brooks was released on Nov. 16 after he posted the $1,000 bond.
At the time, Brooks was out on bail in a different case where he is charged with firing a gun during an argument with a relative.
The bail amount in the gas station case, granted by a court commissioner, was “inappropriately low,” a statement from the office said. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has launched an internal review of the case.
In the case, Brooks was charged with two felonies (second-degree recklessly endangering safety and bail jumping) and three misdemeanors (obstructing officers, battery and disorderly conduct).
The police report recommended more serious charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and driving without a valid license, causing great bodily harm. It is not uncommon for police to call for more serious charges than what gets charged.
The Nov. 2 incident began at a hotel where the victim was living. She told police she has known Brooks for more than 16 years. Brooks would later tell police the woman is his longtime girlfriend. Since at least April, the two had been in a relationship, which at times has been marked by violence, according to the report.
According to the police report, the woman told officers, “over the past month they have been fighting multiple times where he has injured her but stated she had no intentions of calling the police.”
In an interview with police, the victim said Brooks had threatened to kill her before, tried to choke her and has been often jealous and controlling of her.
People stay in abusive relationships for many reasons including fear of subjecting their children to upheaval, losing custody of their children, becoming homeless, inadequate income and religious or family pressure, experts say. Also, many women, particularly women of color, do not trust police or the criminal justice system.
According to the report:
On the morning of Nov. 2, Brooks knocked on the door of a room where the victim was staying. As he came out, he screamed at her and grabbed her phone. The victim walked to a gas station. Brooks then drove up to her in a 2010 red Ford Escape — the same SUV authorities say he was driving when he barreled down the Waukesha parade route.
He told her to get in the SUV and when she didn’t, the report says, Brooks punched her in the face. The woman again walked away and that is when he ran her over and “tried to kill her,” the woman told police.
Brooks then fled and police officers found the woman on the ground at the gas station near N. 73rd Street and W. Capitol Drive, bleeding from the mouth and unable to walk. At the hospital, doctors diagnosed a dislocated femur and fractured right ankle, the report said.
Officers found Brooks behind his mother’s home on the near north side, getting out of the Ford Escape. He ignored officers’ order to stop and said, “I have to go get my mom” and went in the house. Officers went in and found him in a bedroom with his mother. Brooks had been barred by the court from having any contact with his mother, the report said.
In an interview with police, Brooks denied he had injured his girlfriend, said he loved her and would never hurt her. He also said that he hadn’t seen her in days and suggested she made up the story because she was drunk. He assured police she would later recant her allegations, the report said.
Brooks, who is listed in the reports as a graduate of Riverside High School and as being unemployed, told police he is supposed to be taking medication for his mental health issues. Officers asked Brooks if he has been diagnosed with any type of mental disorder. His answer was blacked out in the police report.
The 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline is available by call or text at 800-985-5990. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at (800) 799-7233 or by texting LOVEIS to 22522. For a full list of domestic violence resources across the state, go to endabusewi.org/get-help.
Ashley Luthern of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Darrell Brooks 'tried to kill her,' woman hit in earlier incident tells police