FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Coney Island Teenager Convicted of Murder and Arson in Death of
New York City Police Officer Dennis Guerra
Officer Killed Responding to Deadly Mattress Fire in Housing Development Hallway;
Officer Rosa Rodriguez, His Partner, Was Critically Injured
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Coney Island teenager has been convicted of felony murder and arson for setting fire to a mattress in the hallway of a New York City Housing Authority building. Officer Dennis Guerra and his partner, Officer Rosa Rodriguez, responded to the scene and were immediately overcome by smoke and carbon monoxide. Officer Guerra later died of his injuries.
District Attorney Thompson said, “Police Officers Guerra and Rodriguez showed great courage when they rushed into that building to save the lives of others. Tragically, Officer Guerra lost his life and his partner suffered severe and permanent life-threatening injuries – all because the defendant was bored and set a mattress on fire, and did so despite being clearly warned about the dangers of setting fires. May this verdict bring some comfort to Officer Guerra’s family, as well as to Officer Rodriguez and her loved ones and to the men and women of the NYPD.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Marcell Dockery, 18, of 2007 Surf Avenue in Coney Island. He was convicted today of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and fourth-degree arson following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant will be sentenced on June 14, 2016 at which time he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
On April 6, 2014, at approximately 12:30 p.m., according to trial testimony, Officers Guerra and Rodriguez responded to a 911 call of a fire at the defendant’s apartment building located at 2007 Surf Avenue. When the officers arrived on the 13th floor, the location of the fire, they were overcome by toxic smoke. Responding firefighters found both officers unconscious and rescued them from the building.
The District Attorney said that, according to testimony, the defendant, who lived on the 12th floor, found a discarded mattress in a 13th floor hallway and used a lighter to set it on fire.
The defendant admitted to setting the deadly fire and told investigators, according to evidence submitted at trial, “I decided to take a lighter and light the top of the mattress because I was bored.” He was convicted of causing a death while committing a felony, namely, arson.
Both officers were hospitalized for severe smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Officer Guerra, a second-generation police officer, succumbed to his injuries three days later. He is survived by his wife and four children. Officer Rodriguez recovered and is currently assigned to the New York City Police Department’s Medical Division and placed on limited duty due to her injuries.
Officer Guerra, an eight-year NYPD veteran, and Officer Rodriguez, a four-year veteran, were assigned to Police Service Area 1 of the Housing Bureau.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard L. Jackson, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub, Bureau Chief.