New York Daily News

April 10, 2014


 

 

NYCHA firebug in death of cop has a record and should have been evicted earlier


Marcell Dockery was arrested twice leading up to the fire he admitted to starting in the Coney Island apartment building he calls home. Under Housing Authority policy, even someone with prior arrests can be denied housing.

BY GREG B. SMITH

See also:
Officer Dennis Guerra dies after days-long fight for life following Coney Island fire; teen arson suspect faces murder charge and
Hamill: Hero first-responder died trying to save the life of Coney Island families

JEFF BACHNER FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Marcell Dockery has been charged with setting the fire that killed Police Officer Dennis Guerra. He was previously arrested for stealing his mother's cell phone and drug possession.

Marcell Dockery was arrested twice in the months before police say he set the fire that killed an NYPD housing cop, busts that could have made him eligible for eviction from his NYCHA apartment before the tragedy.

But Housing Authority officials confirmed Wednesday they were unaware of the 16-year-old’s prior arrests: a criminal mischief charge in January for stealing his mother’s cell phone and a March 4 misdemeanor arrest for marijuana possession.

Dockery, charged Monday with assault and arson, now potentially faces murder charges in Dennis Guerra’s death.

He was also charged with a March 7 robbery of a 60-year-old tenant in his Coney Island building. NYCHA will now begin termination-of-lease proceedings against his mother. Whether the agency would have moved to evict earlier remains to be seen, and NYPD officials say they wouldn’t have notified NYCHA because the priors weren’t serious enough.

But problems have recently emerged in the system that is supposed to help keep public housing tenants safe, data obtained by the Daily News show.

NYCHA has authority to rid itself of tenants convicted of serious crimes like murder, rape, grand larceny, robbery, burglary and felony drug possession committed on its grounds. It can even evict after a mere arrest.

But NYCHA records obtained by The News show the number of such eviction cases has dropped dramatically from 1,457 in 2009 to 1,075 in 2013.