Steven Brooks has had what is clearly a bad month. The former Nevada lawmaker was arrested hours after being thrown out of the legislature by his colleagues as too dangerous and unstable. He then took California officers on a car chase ending in his being tasered and arrested near Victorville, California. He also alleged threatened a Democratic leader and tried to grab the gun of an officer and attacked a dog. Describing himself as “a fiscal conservative and liberal democrat,” Brooks was recently reelected with over 68 percent of the vote.
Brooks, 41, was first arrested on Jan. 19, after he was accused of making threats toward legislative colleagues including Assembly Democratic Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick. At the time of his arrest, he had a gun and ammunition in his car.
Yet, Brooks was sworn in at the Legislature on Feb. 4, but then arrested again Feb. 10 at his estranged wife’s home in Las Vegas. Police say he tried to punch and grab for the gun of an officer who responded to a domestic dispute.
The latest arrest came after a chase began after Brooks got into an argument with a truck driver over the cost of fixing a flat tire. The driver reported the man as acting strangely. Brooks sped away with the tire still flat and tossed objects from the vehicle during the chase. He was finally stopped by a spike strip.
When he was stopped, he refused to get out of the SUV and struggled with officers. A dog was sent into the SUV and Brooks reportedly choked and hit the dog with a socket wrench.
The former Democratic legislator also tried to buy a rifle and succeeded in buying body armor from a radio host in Las Vegas. He reported his car stolen and posed shirtless for a newspaper photograph to show injuries that he said he suffered during an earlier arrest.
He is being held on four felony charges including resisting a police officer with force, willful harm to a police service dog, felony evading arrest and throwing objects from a vehicle with intent to harm.
It will be interesting to see how the obvious claim of mental illness will play in this case. With someone who is able to be elected to the legislature, a jury may find him sufficiently sane to stand trial and reject a mental illness defense. However, this pattern shows someone who is clearly mentally unstable. As discussed in an earlier column, however, we have created confused, and inadequate, standards to deal with mental illness in criminal cases in many states.