According to Axios, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) has pleaded guilty to a local criminal charge after he triggered a fire alarm in a House office building last month. On Oct. 19, his office announced an agreement with the D.C. attorney general to drop the charges in three months in exchange for a formal apology and a $1,000 fine, provided Bowman adheres to the conditions of a three-month probation agreement.
According to the outlet, Rep. Jamaal Bowman expressed responsibility for the incident, stating, “I am responsible for activating a fire alarm. I will be paying the fine issued and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped.” The Capitol Police had previously completed an investigation and sent the case to prosecutors for consideration.
The charge filed by the attorney general’s office in the D.C. Superior Court was one count of a false fire alarm, as per court documents, which can result in up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine under the D.C. criminal code.
The D.C. attorney general’s office affirmed that Congressman Bowman was treated like any other individual violating the District of Columbia law. This incident, which took place in late September, led to an evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building as the House prepared to vote on a measure to fund the government through November.
Republicans accused Bowman of trying to delay the vote and initiated efforts to censure him, strip him of committee assignments, and potentially expel him, according to the outlet. Bowman defended his actions as an innocent mistake, explaining that he believed pulling the fire alarm would open a locked door while rushing to the vote.
According to the affidavit in the charging documents, a Capitol police officer who investigated the matter observed from security camera footage that Bowman had attempted to open the door before triggering the alarm. Subsequently, the footage showed Bowman trying to exit the building through various exits before making his way to the Capitol for the vote.
Bowman’s statement conveyed his gratitude to the United States Capitol Police General Counsel’s office for acknowledging that he did not obstruct or intend to obstruct any House vote or proceedings.
The D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office, which holds the authority to charge Bowman with obstruction, declined to comment on the matter. Bowman is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 29, at which point the charges are set to be dropped following the conclusion of his probationary period.