Rikers Island inmate accused of making false emergency calls to police

NEW YORK (WABC) -- An inmate at Rikers Island is accused of making dozens of false emergency calls to police claiming something was happening at his mother's house.

NYPD officers repeatedly rushed to her home.

Prosecutors say he was doing it because the mother, Christine Black, wouldn't bail him out of jail.

"It was really so frustrating, because I didn't know what was happening. I didn't know who was doing this," said Black.

That was until she realized it was her own son, 34-year-old James Truell, an inmate awaiting trial for multiple armed robberies and hoping to make bail.

But Christine said she couldn't afford her son's bail. And Truell, who suffers from mental illness, wasn't happy about that.

So police say he began abusing the 911 system from Rikers to send police racing to her home on fake calls, otherwise known as 'swatting'.

"The emergency calls were coming in and I didn't know who was sending these emergency calls to my home," said Black.

"That there were people being shot, there was a gun," said her boyfriend Larry Canady. "They wanted to search the house. There was a man down, ambulance would come."

He says at times he feared for his life because cops had their guns drawn.

"I said don't let them in no more, because I don't wanna get killed in here."

The calls to 911 happened 31 times since September of last year. Police determined Truell called 311 from Rikers, which he is allowed to do, and then urged them to transfer him to 911.

In a statement, the Department of Corrections told us "This was an unusual circumstance and does not occur often. We believe that providing 311 is crucial to give those in custody a necessary outlet to raise any concerns."

Right now Christine's concern is for her own safety, and her son's mental health. We spoke to his defense attorney Wednesday.

"Even though he might've done that to his mother, his mother is with me and telling me that he needs help at this point," said the attorney, Jorge Santos.

Truell is now facing 31 counts of reckless endangerment and false reporting, on top of his felony rap sheet.

----------
* More Queens news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.