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Dem Rep. Bowman to plead guilty to Capitol fire alarm stunt

By Jake Beardslee · October 25, 2023

In brief…

  • Rep. Jamaal Bowman will plead guilty to misdemeanor charge of wrongly triggering fire alarm
  • Incident occurred in September before a House vote on funding bill
  • Bowman says it was an accident and he didn't intend to disrupt Congress
  • He agrees to 3 months probation, apologizing to police, and $1,000 fine
Rep. Jamaal Bowman will plead guilty to accidentally triggering a fire alarm in the Capitol before a funding vote and agrees to probation, apologizing, and paying a fine.  House Creative Committee/Wikimedia

Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York will appear in DC Superior Court Thursday morning where he is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of wrongly triggering a fire alarm in a House office building last month.

The plea deal comes after Bowman was caught on video pulling the fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building shortly before the House was set to vote on a government funding bill in late September, prompting the building’s evacuation.

If Bowman complies with the terms of the agreement reached with the DC attorney general’s office, including three months probation, the misdemeanor charge will be dismissed. He will also be required to provide a formal apology to the US Capitol Police and pay a $1,000 fine.

“I’m thankful for the quick resolution from the District of Columbia Attorney General’s office on this issue and grateful that the United States Capitol Police General Counsel’s office agreed I did not obstruct nor intend to obstruct any House vote or proceedings,” Bowman said in a statement Wednesday. “I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped.”

According to an affidavit written by a US Capitol Police officer, Bowman said he was “attempting to exit the building” when he “pushed on a door and pulled the lever next to it, which must have been the alarm.” Bowman claimed the door was one he regularly uses and that he did not intend to cause alarm or disrupt Congress.

The officer’s affidavit noted Bowman walked past several police officers after the incident without informing them of what happened. It also stated Bowman said he was rushing to get to votes and “did not want to miss the votes to keep the government funded.”

The DC attorney general’s office said Bowman will be “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,” the office said.