Updated Oct 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Bowman pleads guilty to pulling Capitol Hill fire alarm

Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) pleaded guilty on Thursday to a local criminal count for pulling a House office building fire alarm last month.

Driving the news: Bowman's office said Wednesday they had reached an agreement with the D.C. attorney general for the charges to be dropped in three months in exchange for a formal apology and a $1,000 fine.

  • The charges will be dismissed as long as Bowman abides by the conditions of a three-month probation agreement, the attorney general's office said Wednesday.

What they're saying: "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 before his court appearance Thursday.

  • "We finished our investigation," the Capitol Police previously said in a statement to Axios. "Our agents gathered all the evidence, packaged it up, and sent the entire case with charges to prosecutors for their consideration."
  • The attorney general's office charged Bowman in D.C. superior court with one count of a false fire alarm, according to court documents.
  • The offense is punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine under D.C. criminal code.
  • "Congressman Bowman was treated like anyone else who violates the law in the District of Columbia," said Gabriel Shoglow-Rubenstein, a spokesperson for the D.C. attorney general's office.

The backdrop: The fire alarm prompted an evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building in late September as the House was gearing up to vote on a measure to keep the government funded through November.

  • Republicans accused Bowman of trying to delay the vote and quickly launched efforts to censure Bowman, strip him of his committee assignments and expel him.
  • Bowman said it was an innocent mistake and that, in his rush to get to the vote, he believed pulling the fire alarm would open a locked door.

Zoom in: A Capitol Police officer who investigated the matter said in an affidavit included in the charging documents that a review of security camera footage showed Bowman attempting to open the door before pulling the alarm.

  • Bowman was subsequently seen on surveillance video attempting to get out of the building through several other exits before making his way out of the building and to the Capitol for the vote, the officer said.
  • Bowman said in his statement he is "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."
  • "Based on the evidence presented by Capitol Police, we charged the only crime that we have jurisdiction to prosecute," said Shoglow-Rubenstein.
  • A spokesperson for the D.C. U.S. Attorney's office, which has the power to charge Bowman with obstruction, declined to comment on the matter.

What's next: Bowman is due back in court on Jan. 29, when the charges are set to be dropped after the conclusion of his probationary period.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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