Innocent LA father killed after DA Gascón gives violent career criminal multiple diversions
LOS ANGELES - A violent career criminal who was on the streets and not in jail because she was assigned mental health treatment instead of prison time is accused of killing an innocent Los Angeles father.
Jade Simone Brookfield, 23, was arrested in April and charged with murder after she allegedly fatally stabbed 40-year-old Dennis Banner during an argument in a street. Law enforcement sources tell Fox News that Brookfield had a lengthy criminal history for alleged assault, assault with a deadly weapon and multiple violent felonies with knives, but she had inexplicably avoided incarceration and was repeatedly given mental health diversions.
It took a family losing their father for Brookfield's diversion to be terminated, and only now is the suspect finally being held in custody.
This heartbreaking case is a prime example of the disaster that can happen when California's loose mental health diversion laws combine with progressive Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's soft-on-crime approach to seek diversion whenever possible.
Dennis Banner, 40, was fatally stabbed to death last month. His suspected killer, Jade Simone Brookfield, had a history of committing violent felonies with knives but was never jailed, law enforcement sources say. (Fox News)
"We appreciate the public concern when someone is participating in a mental health program and allegedly commits a serious crime," Gascón's office said in a statement. "Our prosecutors make the best decisions they can in light of all the available information. Our heart goes out to all the victims in this matter, and we stand ready to support them on their journey to healing."
Law enforcement sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the case, shared details and a timeline of Brookfield's arrest record and violent criminal history.
Brookfield's first encounter with Los Angeles police happened in the early spring of 2020, during Gascón's first year in office. Brookfield was arrested for attempted murder after she stabbed a woman in the chest with a knife, puncturing her lung.
Prosecution of the crime was delayed into 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. By then, the court reduced Brookfield's charges to assault with a deadly weapon — still a felony charge that counts as one "strike" under California's Three Strikes law — and prosecutors agreed to a deal where Brookfield was given mental health diversion instead of jail time.
A source said that Brookfield absconded and was initially terminated from the diversion program. However, she was permitted to re-enlist in diversion and was given another chance.
In September 2021, Brookfield was arrested for battery of a peace officer. She was again given a mental health diversion and Gascón's office dismissed the case.
Three months later in December, Brookfield was arrested for a third time for making criminal threats after she allegedly assaulted a man, pulled out two knives and threatened to kill him. Despite her known record of violent assault, prosecutors rejected the case because of a lack of evidence, according to Gascón's office.
LA County District Attorney George Gascón.
Brookfield remained in the mental health diversion program, but it does not seem to have helped her. In March of this year, Brookfield was arrested for a fourth time for another felony assault with a knife. She allegedly swung a knife several times at a bus driver who missed her exit, according to law enforcement sources.
Despite her criminal history, and despite this arrest being a blatant violation of her diversion, Brookfield was inexplicably ordered released from custody with an ankle monitor, a decision that proved to have deadly consequences.
Just weeks after her release for a second assault with a deadly weapon arrest, Brookfield was arrested and charged in Banner's death.
Banner, a father of two young girls, was killed with a knife.
The union representing Los Angeles deputy district attorneys said Gascón is at fault.
"The time to build a functional mental health system was two and half years ago. Instead of doing so, George Gascon offered Tweets, press conferences, and his thoughts and prayers. That is not enough. It is irresponsible. And it’s dangerous," said Eric Siddall, vice president of the L.A. Association of Deputy District Attorneys. "Releasing people back onto the streets with no supervision is not the answer. LA County needs to build out a system that includes lockdown mental health facilities to treat those with serious mental health concerns."
Bill Melugin currently serves as a national correspondent for FOX News Channel based out of the Los Angeles Bureau.