Coney Island Teenager Sentenced to 19 Years to Life for Arson Murder of New York City Police Officer Dennis Guerra

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Coney Island Teenager Sentenced to 19 Years to Life for Arson Murder 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 was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for his felony murder and arson conviction. The defendant set 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, “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. The sentence imposed by the court today reflects the severity of the crime committed by the defendant.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Marcell Dockery, 18, of 2007 Surf Avenue in Coney Island.  Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun sentenced the defendant to 19 years to life in prison following his conviction on May 5, 2016 on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and fourth-degree arson after a jury trial.

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.