BLM protester accused of sabotaging NYPD van

Federal authorities say this man crawled underneath an NYPD van in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on July 17, 2020, and damaged a component of the antilock braking system. (U.S. Department of Justice document)

A Black Lives Matter protester from Brooklyn is accused of trying to cut a brake line of a New York City police vehicle a few days after he participated in a protest outside a courthouse and told a police informant that peaceful demonstrations don't achieve enough.

Federal authorities arrested and charged Jeremy Trapp, 24, on Wednesday with sabotaging an NYPD van by partially severing a wheel speed sensor, which is part of the van's antilock braking system, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. 

After attending a protest in Downtown Brooklyn on July 13, Trapp met with someone and said he wanted to harm cops because he believed they're racist, according to an FBI agent's affidavit filed in federal court. The person Trapp met was actually a paid confidential source for the NYPD, the affidavit said.

Over the next few days, Trapp and the informant texted and then met in person, federal authorities said. Trapp told the source that he wanted to burn down the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge so that white supremacists could not use it to get to Brooklyn from Staten Island, according to the affidavit. He also said that the protests unfolding around the city in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota weren't accomplishing anything, the FBI said, so he wanted to cut the brake lines of a police vehicle.

On July 17, Trapp and the police source found an NYPD van parked near 4th Avenue and 42nd Street in Sunset Park, the affidavit said. While the informant pretended to be the lookout but actually recorded video, Trapp crawled under the van with a clipping tool to cut a brake line, authorities said. However, he damaged the speed sensor line, which looks similar to a brake line.

A damaged wheel speed sensor line of an NYPD van. (U.S. Department of Justice document)

The NYPD arrested Trapp the same day and charged him with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, which are state charges. The Brooklyn district attorney released him on his own recognizance, according to reports.

But Trapp's legal troubles would soon go federal.

A police mechanic told the FBI that the partially severed line, part of the ABS, is in the same location as the 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," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release.

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FBI Special Agent David Williams submitted an affidavit and complaint to federal court on Tuesday to obtain an arrest warrant.  Then on Wednesday, federal authorities arrested Trapp at his home in Brooklyn.

"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," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement. "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."

His lawyer, Ashley Burrell, called his client "unsophisticated and easily susceptible" during his arraignment on Wednesday afternoon, Gothamist reported.

A federal magistrate judge ordered Trapp detained pending trial.