Democrat Representative Jamaal Bowman Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor for Pulling Fire Alarm Ahead of Vote

Democrat Representative Jamaal Bowman appeared in a D.C. Superior Court for arraignment one day after being criminally charged for the incident on Capitol Hill.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, Rep. Bowman will have to write an apology to Capitol Police and pay a $1,000 fine. 

The Democrat from New York called allegations he pulled the alarm deliberately “complete B.S.” and continues to claim he thought he was opening a door.

However, Capitol Police referred him to prosecutors who ordered him to appear in court and hit him with one misdemeanor count. 

The incident, which occurred September 30 in the Cannon House Office building, sparked calls from the GOP for him to be expelled from Congress.

The charge was for “willfully and knowingly [giving] a false alarm of fire, in violation of D.C. code,” and the representative was ordered to appear in court Thursday for arraignment.

Bowman confirmed he will pay a $1,000 fine and issue a formal apology to Capitol Police to have the charge dropped. 

“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.

Capitol Police have concluded the investigation into the September 30 incident that Bowman describes as a mistake.

“We finished our investigation. Our agents gathered all the evidence, packaged it up, and sent the entire case with charges to prosecutors for their consideration,” said the police in the statement.

Bowman, a former school principal, said he pulled the alarm trying to open a door in a rush to get to a vote. However, the incident came as Democrats were trying to delay a vote on a bill to extend a deadline on government funding and avoid a government shutdown.

“I thought the alarm would open the door,” said Bowman to reporters about the incident. “I was rushing to make a vote. I was trying to get to a door.”

“[Bowman] pulled a fire alarm in Cannon this morning,” said a spokesperson for the Congressional Administration Committee. “An investigation into why it was pulled is underway.”

Representative Bowman said the notion that he pulled the fire alarm to delay a vote “complete B.S.”

Rep. Bryan Steil: “Bowman’s excuse does not pass the sniff test”

Representative Bryan Steil, chair of the House Administration Committee, said of the charge, “Bowman’s excuse does not pass the sniff test. After pulling the fire alarm, Rep. Bowman fled the scene, passed by multiple Capitol Police officers, and had every opportunity to alert USCP of his mistake.”

The stunt by Bowman enraged Republicans, with GOP Representative Nicol Malliotakis of New York drafting a resolution to expel him.

However, House repercussions for the representative were derailed with the removal of former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and the following three-week impasse to find a speaker. After McCarthy rushed a last-minute clean continuing resolution (C.R.) on the floor of the House to extend 2023 funding levels set by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats were concerned they had been tricked. 

Representatives wanted additional time to read through the document before voting on it; however, it was necessary to vote that day, September 30, to avoid a government shutdown. That is where Republicans claim Bowman moved to thwart the vote.

The GOP had spent until almost the last minute trying to pass a party-line C.R. that included border security provisions and steep funding cuts. But, with 21 Republicans opposed to the plan, McCarthy agreed to put a clean funding extension on the floor, with the support of the Democrats, that didn’t contain key conservative priorities.