A protester demonstrating alongside Black Lives Matter decided that nonviolent protests were “not accomplishing anything,” and decided to take it to another level.
Eastern District of new York court filings state that Jeremy Trapp, a Brooklyn resident, set out to cut brake lines of NYPD vehicles, with the “intent to endanger the safety of any person on board and anyone whom he believed would board, and with a reckless disregard for the safety of human life.”
On July 13, Trapp, an Occupy City Hall protester, confided in a confidential NYPD source outside the Brooklyn Criminal Court building in downtown Brooklyn, after a nonviolent protest, that he felt police were “racist.” He also stated that he “wanted to harm police officers and their supporters.” Trapp also claimed that he had burned a police car.
His next plan of action was to cut the brake lines on a police vehicle. He didn’t stop there. He also expressed his desire to burn the [Verrazzano-Narrows] bridge down” to keep “white supremacists” from traveling from Staten Island to Brooklyn. While it may be a popular meme that Staten Islanders are rampantly racist, this was an incorrect assessment, on Trapp’s part.
Trapp encouraged the police informant that they should conduct reconnaissance of the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, and the two drive near the bridge,on the Brooklyn side, while Trapp took photos. Trapp questioned the validity of burning cars, and instead suggested a better move would be to “cut their brakes off.” He also suggested that police precincts, and not NYPD vehicles, should be burned down for maximum effect.
Apparently, Trapp did not agree with the idea of change through nonviolence, and expressed that only violent means would “accomplish anything.”
On July 17, 2020, Trapp’s plan was sprung into action. A marked NYPD 2014 Chevrolet Express Van parked near 4th Avenue and 42nd Street in Brooklyn was his next target. The police informant let Trapp out of his car, and Trapp proceeded to crawl under the van, using a tool he had previously shown to the informant as being useful for cutting brake lines. The informant served as a “lookout.” The entire incident was captured on police surveillance footage.
Trapp was excited afterwards, quite satisfied with himself for carrying out his sabotage plan. After his arrest, the vandalized van was inspected, and found to have a wheel speed sensor line that was partially severed. The wheel speed sensors provide data to the vehicle’s computer to ensure that the transmission shifts properly, and are also part of a vehicle’s ABS (anti-lock braking system)..
Photographs show that Trapp managed to cut off a portion of the plastic looming surrounding the line, as well as cut into the rubberized plastic coating on the line itself, but did not actually accomplish his goal of cutting through. Apparently, Trapp underestimated the resilience of these vital wires.
A brake line differs from a wheel speed sensor wire in that a brake line is a hollow metallic tube that contains hydraulic fluid, which, when compressed, tightens the brake’s caliper onto the disc when the brake pedal is depressed, while the sensor line is an insulated wire that conveys electrical impulses from a magnetic sensor in the wheel assembly to the computer.
According to Federal Court filings, Trapp had meant to cut the brake lines, but made an error, mistaking the wheel speed sensor line for the brake line. Still, his mistake could have caused injuries or worse, according to the Court filing: “A malfunctioning anti-lock braking system would adversely impact a driver’s ability to stop and maintain control of the NYPD van in an emergency.”
Special Agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, David J. Williams, telephoned in the following for the the court affidavit, “If the brake line had been severed in the same manner as the wheel speed sensor line, the driver of the NYPD van would have been unable to use the vehicle’s brakes.”
The defendant was arrested by the NYPD for reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, and released on his own recognizance. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested by multiple FBI agents on federal charges at his own home, at which time he resisted arrest.
Trapp’s activities falls under Federal jurisdiction for the following reason, according to the filed affidavit, “The NYPD Van is the property of the NYPD and the New York City government. Both the NYPD and New York City government conduct business in interstate commerce, for instance by purchasing vehicles and other equipment and supplies in interstate commerce. The activities of the NYPD and the New York City government in enacting and enforcing laws also affect interstate commerce. The NYPD and the New York City government are also the recipients of financial assistance from the federal government, including grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ”
Jeremy Trapp’s initial assigned attorney, Ashley Burrell, stated, “At best, Mr. Trapp is unsophisticated and easily susceptible” during his arraignment. Federal Judge Gold ordered Trapp be help without bail until his arraignment on December 14 in Kings couty Criminal Court for his violation of NY state criminal code. The defendant faces up to twenty years in Federal prison if convicted on alleged Federal charges.
Yolanda Chitohwa, Trapp’s present attorney provided by the Legal Aid Society, would not make a statement when a Staten Islander reported spoke with her on the phone this week. His current attorney said she was not permitted to speak about any aspects of the ongoing case.
The following are a list of New York State penal laws Mr. Trapp is alleged to have violated:
|PL 165.09 01||A Misdemeanor, 1 count, Arrest charge, Arraignment charge
|PL 120.20 00||A Misdemeanor, 1 count, Arrest charge, Arraignment charge
DescriptionReckless Endangerment 2nd
|PL 195.05 00||A Misdemeanor, 1 count, Arrest charge, Arraignment charge
DescriptionObstrct Gvrnmntl Admn 2nd
|PL 145.05 02||E Felony, 1 count, Arrest charge, Arraignment charge
DescriptionCrim Mischief 3:property> $250
|PL 145.15 00||A Misdemeanor, 1 count, Arrest charge, Arraignment charge
|PL 145.00 01||A Misdemeanor, 1 count, Arrest charge, Arraignment charge
DescriptionCrm Mis:intnt Dmge Prprty
|PL 120.25 00
|D Felony, 1 count, Arrest charge, Arraignment charge
DescriptionReckless Endangerment 1st
The Federal Charge is as follows: