Published On: Wed, Oct 25th, 2023

Jamaal Bowman to plead guilty to misdemeanor for pulling fire alarm in a Capitol building

Jamaal Bowman to plead guilty to misdemeanor for pulling fire alarm in a Capitol building
Jamaal Bowman to plead guilty to misdemeanor for pulling fire alarm in a Capitol building

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., indicated Wednesday that he will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge over pulling a fire alarm in a congressional building on Capitol Hill last month.

Bowman has agreed to pay the maximum fine of $1,000 for one misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm — a charge that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail. He will also provide a formal apology to Capitol Police.

“I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped,” Bowman said in a statement Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the D.C. Attorney General’s Office said in a separate statement that Bowman “is pleading guilty and has agreed to pay the maximum fine.”

Bowman’s office said he made an agreement with the D.C. Attorney General’s Office that would lead to the charge being withdrawn in three months on the condition that he pay the fine and submit the apology letter.

The alarm was set off Sept. 30 in the Cannon House Office Building as Republican lawmakers sought to kickoff a vote on a spending measure to keep the government open.

In a statement hours after the incident, Bowman said he activated the alarm by mistake after coming across a door that was typically open for votes but would not open that day.

“I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused,” he said at the time.

After the vote, Bowman said he also met with the Sergeant at Arms and Capitol Police at their request and explained what happened.

“I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote,” Bowman said. “My hope is that no one will make more of this than it was.”

House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., said Wednesday that “Bowman’s excuse does not pass the sniff test,” arguing that Bowman “fled the scene,” and had not seized multiple opportunities to alert the Capitol Police of his mistake.

In a charging affidavit released Wednesday, an investigator said he had reviewed security camera footage and that Bowman can be seen pushing multiple doors that would not open before he looked at the emergency fire alarm pull station “and upon seeing it, he reached out and pulled the fire alarm down.”

Bowman can also be seen “jogging” as he exits the building and does not stop to say anything to uniformed officers he passes as he enters the Capitol minutes later, according to the affidavit. It also said the building was evacuated for about 90 minutes before it was reopened after no threat was identified.

A spokesperson for U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement at the time that police would conduct an investigation.

In a statement Wednesday, Capitol Police said the investigation was complete and a probable cause arrest warrant had been submitted to the D.C. Attorney General’s Office.

“Our agents gathered all the evidence, packaged it up, and sent the entire case with charges to prosecutors for their consideration,” U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement.

Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., who serves as secretary for the House Republican conference, wrote on X that she planned to introduce a resolution to censure Bowman and remove him from all committee assignments for the remainder of the 118th Congress for activating the alarm.

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