Coney Island Teen Convicted In Deadly Mattress Fire That Killed Police Officer

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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, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced today.

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 and faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

“Police Officers Guerra and Rodriguez showed great courage when they rushed into that building to save the lives of others,” said Thompson. “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.”

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.

On April 6, 2014, at approximately 12:30pm, Officers Guerra and Rodriguez responded to a 911 call of a fire at the defendant’s apartment building located at 2007 Surf Avenue, according to trial testimony. 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.

Dockery, who lived on the 12th floor, found a discarded mattress in a 13th floor hallway and used a lighter to set it on fire, according to prosecutors.

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.”

Though lawyers for the suspect have argued that the confession was coerced, Dockery 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.