April 25, 2016 | 12:56pm  


Cop recounts harrowing final moments before partner’s death from arson fire

By Priscilla DeGregory and Danika Fears

 David McGlynn
Officer Rosa Rodriguez's partner Dennis Guerra (right) died after getting trapped in an elevator during a 2014 fire.

A Brooklyn cop whose partner died as they responded to a blaze set by a “bored” teen at a housing project recalled the terrifying drama in court Monday — speaking in a whisper because of permanent injuries to her lungs.

“We were able to walk out of the elevator but had difficulty breathing,” Officer Rosa Rodriguez said so softly that her testimony had to be repeated by a prosecutor at times.

“I tried to find the exit door, but it was difficult to breathe. We were feeling on the walls. I remember holding on to Guerra’s shoulders, I didn’t want to lose him,’’ she said, referring to NYPD partner Dennis Guerra, who succumbed to his injuries three days after the 2014 Coney Island blaze.

The fallen officer’s stricken widow and mother fled the Brooklyn courtroom in tears as prosecutors prepared to show surveillance video of Guerra’s final moments in the elevator. They later returned to watch it.

“His wife is still devastated by the loss,’’ a police source told The Post.

Other evidence shown to jurors Monday included dozens of chilling crime-scene photos such as the charred remnants of the mattress that suspected arsonist Marcell Dockery, then 16, set ablaze.
Dockery told cops he started the fire because he was “bored.”

Rodriguez, 38, said she remembered holding onto Guerra but then blacked out. Her next memory was three weeks later, as she lay still recuperating at Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“I am not a doctor. [But] I feel totally different than I did before,” she said on the second day of Dockery’s trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

“I can’t breathe well. I can’t walk long distances. I can’t climb stairs. I can’t play with my kids anymore,” the cop said, adding that she’ll need a lung transplant.

Prosecutors played surveillance footage that began with Dockery getting into the elevator at 2007 Surf Ave. around 12:26 p.m. Minutes later, Rodriguez and Guerra can be seen stepping into the lift and riding it up to the 13th floor before it suddenly fills with thick, black smoke.

In radio transmissions from the scene, Guerra can be heard screaming, “I got smoke coming out of the window!”

“Eighty-five! Eighty-five!” he shouted, using the emergency police code for help.

At one point, both officers screamed, “Can’t breathe! Can’t breathe!”

Guerra, an eight-year veteran of the force, went into cardiac arrest four times as he was rushed to the hospital, said paramedic Maggie Weaver.

“His heart wasn’t holding up with the power to keep him alive,” she said.

Dockery, now 18, rejected a plea deal of 22 years behind bars after being indicted on a second-degree murder charge. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.