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NYPD informant helped bust protester who cut the brake line on police van

The Black Lives Matter protester who is charged with cutting the brake lines on a marked NYPD van made threats to attack the Verrazzanno Bridge and was caught with the assistance of a paid police informant, it has been revealed.

Jeremy A. Trapp, 24, was arrested on federal criminal charges at his home in Brooklyn on Wednesday in relation to the July 17 attack on an NYPD van in the Sunset Park neighborhood.

In a newly unsealed criminal complaint, FBI investigators reveal that Trapp first met the NYPD informant at a demonstration outside the Brooklyn Criminal Court building in downtown Brooklyn on July 13.

Trapp told the confidential informant ‘that the police were racist, that he wanted to harm police officers and their supporters, and that he had previously been involved in destroying property and burning a police car,’ wrote FBI Special Agent David J. Williams in the complaint.

Over the next several days, Trapp remained in contact with the informant, and the two met up on July 15, according to the complaint.

On that occasion, Trapp allegedly said that he wanted to ‘burn the [Verrazzano-Narrows] bridge down’ so that ‘white supremacists’ could not use it to get to Brooklyn from Staten Island. 

The Verrazzano Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in America, and connects Staten Island with the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

The following day, Trapp and the informant drove to the Brooklyn side of the Verrazzano Bridge, where Trapp took reconnaissance photos of the bridge, according to the complaint.

Throughout, the informant says that Trapp spoke of his desire to harm police, saying that burning cop cars was not enough, and that police stations needed to be burned instead, and the brake lines on police vehicles cut.

Trapp complained ‘that the demonstrations were too non-violent and were not accomplishing anything,’ wrote Williams. 

After failing to spot any unattended police cars on July 16, Trapp and the informant met up again on July 17 and again scouted Brooklyn, according to the complaint.

Trapp showed off a scissor-like tool that could be used to sever brake lines, the informant said, and the two began driving around Brooklyn — but unbeknownst to Trapp, an undercover NYPD surveillance team was tailing them.

At around 4pm, Trapp and the informant spotted a marked police van parked outside the NYPD’s processing center for applicants at 4th Avenue and 42nd Street, and Trapp allegedly crawled underneath while the surveillance team watched his every move.

With the surveillance team in covert pursuit, Trapp allegedly ‘expressed excitement’ about cutting the brake lines and wanted to look for more police cars, but instead he and the informant drove to the Occupy City Hall protest camp in Manhattan, where demonstrates called for the NYPD to be defunded. 

Trapp was arrested soon after returning to Brooklyn.

An inspection found that the police van’s anti-lock brake sensor had been severed, which could affect the handling of the vehicle. The sensor line was right next to, and looked identical to, the van’s main brake line, according to police.

At the time of Trapp’s arrest, the role of the informant was not revealed, and police implied that officers had happened to catch him in the act. 

The federal complaint does not make clear whether the informant was someone who was previously a paid confidential source, or whether the person came forward to cooperate after hearing of Trapp’s plans. 

Initially, Trapp was charged locally with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, and was released without bail the next day by a New York City judge.

On Wednesday, Trapp was ordered detained pending trial by United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold. It was unclear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

‘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 Seth D. DuCharme said in a statement. 

‘This office will ensure that anyone who targets police officers or acts with the intent to undermine public safety efforts will face justice.’ 

Trapp faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the federal charges. 

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