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Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York has been charged by the DC attorney general with triggering a fire alarm in a House office building when there was not an emergency.
Bowman has been summoned to appear in DC Superior Court 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, where the congressman is expected to plead guilty. He will also be booked, fingerprinted and processed on the misdemeanor charge.
If he abides by conditions of a deal with the DC attorney general’s office, including three months of probation, the misdemeanor charge will be dropped. The deal also requires Bowman to provide a formal apology to the US Capitol Police and pay a $1,000 fine for wrongly pulling a fire alarm, his office told CNN.
“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.”
The DC attorney general’s office said in a statement that 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,” the office said.
Bowman was caught on tape pulling the fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building in late September, shortly before the House was scheduled to vote on a government funding bill. The building was subsequently evacuated.
The congressman said following the incident that it had been an accident.
“I was trying to get to a door. I thought the alarm would open the door, and I pulled the fire alarm to open the door by accident,” Bowman said at the time, adding: “I was just trying to get to my vote and the door that’s usually open wasn’t open, it was closed.”
In an interview with a USCP officer after the incident, Bowman said that 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 said that the door “was a usual door he uses” and that he did not intend to cause a security concern or disrupt the congressional proceeding, an affidavit written by the USCP officer states. The officer noted that there were several emergency exit signs posted at that door.
“The defendant stated the door still did not open and he went to the first floor to exit,” the affidavit states.
Bowman told the officer that he heard alarm sounds, according to the affidavit, and that “he was hurried because votes were called, and he did not want to miss the votes to keep the government funded.” He did not tell anyone about what had happened despite walking past several USCP officers immediately after the incident, it said.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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