Chief-Leader

May 9, 2016: 6:40 pm

 


Teen Convicted For Fire That Killed Cop; Faces 25-to-Life

By RICHARD STEIER

A teenager whose penchant for setting fires led to the death of one Police Officer and severe injuries to his partner was convicted May 5 of murder, arson and assault and faces up to life in prison for his crime.

The wife and mother of Police Officer Dennis Guerra, who died while trying to ensure the safety of residents inside the Coney Island building, broke down in tears when the verdict was read in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch expressed satisfaction with the outcome, even while noting it was “an emotional day for this family” that lost a son, husband and father of four children.

‘It Brings Justice’

“This doesn’t fix everything, but it does bring justice,” he told a large crowd of officers who had applauded Mr. Guerra’s family and his injured partner, Rosa Rodriguez, as well as prosecutors Howard Jackson and Lauren Silver. “It sends the message that you cannot kill a New York City police officer.”

Officer Rodriguez, who testified at the trial, was barely audible because she sustained severe damage to her lungs when exposed to the fire after the door to the elevator that carried them upstairs opened.

She has been unable to return to her job in the 25 months since the teen, who was then 16, set the fire, initially telling cops he did it because he was bored. He later claimed he made a false confession because cops assured him he would be free to leave if he admitted setting the fire. Under law, police officers are permitted to lie to a suspect in order to gain a confession.

Mr. Dockery had agreed to a plea bargain under which he would have received 22 years in prison, but later changed his mind. He now faces 25 years to life behind bars, and the jury’s request o the trial judge that some mercy be offered in sentencing because members didn’t believe he intended to hurt anyone will not factor into that decision.