Sunday, February 3, 2008

Man accused of fake 911 calls.
One led to officer's death

In September 1995, officers from the 10th Precinct of Manhattan responded more than a dozen times to false reports of pistol-toting men, drug deals and gunshots in the blocks around the Chelsea Houses on West 26th Street.

Finally they arrested Manuel Perez, an unemployed laborer, for making 13 false 911 calls to increase the police presence in his neighborhood. One bogus call led to the death of a police officer in a car crash.

Investigators said they thought that Perez may have been making the calls fortwo years. "It's our belief that he wanted police protection in the area, and he would use these calls to get a response," said John F. Timoney, the First Deputy Police Commissioner.

It was Perez's report of gunshots to a 911 operator on September 23 that sent Officer David Willis and his partner, Officer Robert Avezzan racing down 11th Avenue 10 minutes later. As the officers responded, they were hit broadside by a postal van and Officer Willis was thrown through the side window of the patrol car, breaking his neck. He died two days later. Officer Avezzan was not seriously injured because his air bag was activated.

Timoney said investigators began looking into a pattern of false calls in the neighborhood after the officer's death, placing an electronic tag on calls that came from the area and that involved reports of gunshots or drug dealing. On Oct. 28, Samuel Sams, a 911 operator, saw the alert flash on his screen when a man called to report a drug deal near the Chelsea Houses, and Mr. Sams called Nynex to have the call traced. (info from The New York Times)

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