Coney Island teen sentenced for arson death of police officer

A Coney Island teen has been sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for setting fire to a mattress in the hallway of a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) building, resulting in a fire that killed a New York City police officer, announced District Attorney Ken Thompson on Tuesday, June 14.

According to trial testimony, at around 12:30 p.m. on April 6, 2014, Officers Dennis Guerra and Rosa Rodriguez responded to a 911 call of a fire at the 2007 Surf Avenue, where defendant Marcell Dockery, 18, lived. Once officers arrived at the fire on the 13th floor, they were overcome by toxic smoke.

Both officers were hospitalized for severe smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Guerra, a second-generation police officer, succumbed to his injuries three days later. 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.

According to Thompson, Dockery – who lived on the 12th floor – had found a discarded mattress in a 13th floor hallway and used a lighter to set it on fire, because he was “bored.”

“When Police Officers Guerra and Rodriguez responded to that fire inside that building, they did so to save lives. However, a senseless act of arson cost a very courageous police officer his life and destroyed the health and career of another heroic officer,” said Thompson. “The sentence imposed by the court today reflects the severity of the crime committed by the defendant.”

Guerra is survived by his wife and four children.

Dockery had been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and fourth-degree arson.

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