A criminal complaint was unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn charging Jeremy Trapp, 24, with sabotaging a New York City Police Department van by cutting one of the vehicle’s brake lines, the Justice Department said. Trapp was arrested earlier Wednesday at his home in Brooklyn, and was ordered detained pending trial by United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, NYPD, announced the arrest and charges.
“Trapp’s alleged actions had potentially life-threatening consequences for NYPD officers and members of the public, who could have been injured by the vehicle’s brake failure,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “This Office will ensure that anyone who targets police officers or acts with the intent to undermine public safety efforts will face justice.”
“Mr. Trapp’s alleged behavior is illegal, and for the information of others who may have been planning similar criminal activity, we’d like to remind them that the FBI investigates and charges this type of behavior as a federal crime,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Citizens of this city, many of whom are not currently collecting paychecks, paid for the equipment allegedly damaged by Mr. Trapp. They expect it to be available to protect and serve our community when needed. Behavior like the type alleged here diverts resources, destroys property, risk lives, and detracts from the important message thousands of peaceful citizens have rightfully highlighted.”
“The defendant who believed he was cutting the brake lines to a vehicle that could be carrying up to nine police officers clearly intended to create a situation that could result in serious injuries or death for officers or civilians. No one should confuse this conduct with lawful protest. We appreciate the work of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, the FBI agents and the prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in bringing these charges,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
As set forth in the complaint, on July 13, Trapp participated in a demonstration outside the Brooklyn Criminal Court building in downtown Brooklyn that was objecting to the arrests of individuals who had earlier confronted pro-law enforcement demonstrators in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. As the demonstration was winding down, Trapp spoke with an individual who was a confidential source for the NYPD (the “CS”) and he stated that he wanted to harm police officers and their supporters. Trapp also stated that he wanted to cut the brake lines on police cars. On July 17, after Trapp and the CS communicated via telephone calls and text messages, the CS drove to Trapp’s home and picked him up in the CS’s vehicle, where Trapp showed the CS his backpack, which contained, among other things, a scissor-like tool. At approximately 4:00 p.m. on July 17, Trapp and the CS approached a marked NYPD van parked near Fourth Avenue and 42nd Street in Sunset Park. Trapp crawled under the van and reached for something near one of the vehicle’s wheel wells while the CS stood nearby acting as a purported “lookout.” Trapp then crawled out from under the van and left the area with the CS. Both the CS and NYPD officers conducting surveillance recorded this incident on video. An inspection of the NYPD van revealed that a line for a wheel speed sensor had been partially severed. An NYPD automobile mechanic informed the FBI that the partially severed line is part of the NYPD Van’s anti-lock braking system, which is similar in appearance to, and in the same location as, the NYPD vehicle’s main brake line. A malfunctioning anti-lock braking system would adversely impact a driver’s ability to stop and maintain control of the van in an emergency.
If convicted of these allegations, the defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section.