NY man arrested on new federal charge of destruction of police vehicle after similar state charges

A Brooklyn man accused of cutting the brake line of a marked NYPD vehicle more than two weeks ago is now facing a federal charge for his alleged role in the incident.

Prosecutors charged Jeremy Trapp, 24, with one count of destruction of a motor vehicle, according to a criminal complaint obtained by CNN. He is already facing state felony charges of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, along with five misdemeanor charges in the incident and was released on his own recognizance on those charges.

Federal authorities arrested Trapp at his home early Wednesday, according to a source with knowledge of the arrest. He made his initial court appearance via video conference, at which Judge Steven Gold remanded Trapp into custody.

According to a criminal complaint, a paid informant helped investigators with their case. The informant spoke with Trapp at a Brooklyn demonstration in mid-July. Trapp allegedly called the police racist and expressed a desire to “to harm police officers and their supporters,” the complaint reads. He and the informant kept in touch, and Trapp later expressed an interest in burning NYPD precincts and “a way to deal with police cars was to ‘cut their brakes off,'” according to the complaint.

Trapp was caught on video, by the informant and NYPD officers conducting surveillance, crawling underneath an NYPD van and “reached for something near one of the vehicle’s wheel wells,” according to the complaint.

“Trapp expressed excitement to the (informant) about having severed the brake line on the NYPD Van and stated that he wanted to do the same to more police cars,” the complaint says.

After his arrest on July 17, a search found Trapp in possession of “scissor-like tool,” according to the complaint, which also notes an inspection of the NYPD vehicle showed a partially severed line to the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system.

An NYPD spokesperson said police initially arrested Trapp on July 17 for allegedly attempting to damage the brakes on a marked police van. When Trapp was arrested, he had wire cutters on him, according to the spokesperson.

Defense attorney Ashley Burrell, a federal public defender, asked for Trapp to be released, arguing he had not engaged in any illegal activity since he was released on state charges in mid-July and had not participated in any protests. Burrell also compared the case to another federal case involving multiple protesters throwing Molotov cocktails at NYPD vehicles during recent protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

However, prosecutors argued, “Had the NYPD not monitored him, the consequences could have been tragic.” Said Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Francisco Navarro, “The defendant resisted arrest and multiple agents had to get him to succumb.”

Judge Gold denied the comparison to the Molotov cocktail case and said, “This is a distressing case because the defendant before the court is a young man, no prior record and he seems like he must be a troubled individual.”

He added, “It’s hard to imagine a more potentially dangerous act than cutting the brake lines of any car, much less a police vehicle that may be in high speed activity with sirens on.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 19.