Rep. Jamaal Bowman Cops a Plea to Criminal Charge From Fire Alarm Fiasco

U.S. Capitol Police
U.S. Capitol Police

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) copped a plea less than an hour after a criminal charge was filed on Wednesday related to a bizarre incident last month in which security cameras captured him pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office building as he rushed to make a vote.

The charge—a misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm—would have carried a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

But the D.C. Attorney General’s Office said Bowman quickly agreed to plead guilty, issue a formal apology, and pay the maximum fine of $1,000. In exchange, he will avoid prison time and the offenses will be dismissed if he abides by the conditions of a three-month probation agreement, the AG’s office said.

“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, according to Axios.

The AG’s office said Bowman “was treated like anyone else who violates the law in the District of Columbia. Based on the evidence presented by Capitol Police, we charged the only crime that we have jurisdiction to prosecute. He is pleading guilty and has agreed to pay the maximum fine.”

Prior to the plea deal’s announcement, Bowman was slated to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday morning to be arraigned.

In a statement to NBC News, the U.S. Capitol Police said that it presented a probable cause arrest warrant to the AG’s office.

“Our agents gathered all the evidence, packaged it up, and sent the entire case with charges to prosecutors for their consideration,” the statement read.

Jamaal Bowman holds a microphone while speaking at an event.

Rep. Bowman speaks during a convention in New York City in 2022.

Reuters/Eduardo Muñoz

Bowman’s team offered up a puzzling explanation for the alarm pull, telling an Axios reporter at the time that the congressman “did not realize he would trigger a building alarm.”

In equally perplexing remarks last month, Bowman, a former school principal, said, “I thought the alarm would open the door. I was rushing to make a vote, I was trying to get to a door.”

Bowman was rushing to vote on a spending measure to keep the government open; the vote was ultimately delayed by the alarm. Bowman told reporters that any suggestion he pulled the alarm to delay the vote was “complete BS.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who was then still the Speaker of the House, railed against Bowman in a press conference after the vote.

“This should not go without punishment,” he said. “This is an embarrassment.”

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