NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Dramatic testimony was heard Monday in the trial of a teen accused of intentionally setting a deadly fire that in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport reported, Rosa Rodriguez was the officer who survived the April 2014 fire. She was seriously injured, and was in court to testify in the murder trial of Marcell Dockery, 18.
The fire killed NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra, 38.
Dockery allegedly admitted setting a mattress on fire in the hallway of his building in April because he was bored, police said. But he later rescinded that story, saying he was coerced by police, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
On the stand, Rodriguez described the effects of her injuries.
“I can’t breathe. I can’t walk. I can’t climb stairs. I can’t play with my kids anymore,” she said.
Rodriguez watched as prosecutors showed surveillance video and radio transmissions of herself and Guerra responding to the fire call at the building at 2007 Surf Ave., trying to help.
The officers entered an elevator in the building, part of the Coney Island Houses public housing development. They were overcome by thick, black, burning smoke when the elevator door opened.
In a voice barely above a whisper because her lungs are damaged from the soot and heat, Rodriguez described the horrible scene. She said she and Guerra tried to find the exit door, and unable to see, they had to feel along the walls.
“We couldn’t breathe well,” she said. “I remember holding on to Guerra’s shoulders, I didn’t want to lose him.”
Guerra’s widow and parents were watching Monday as surveillance video from the scene. They wept openly, yet quietly in the courtroom.
“You can imagine that this family had to sit there and watch the last steps of their son,” said Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch.
The courtroom was also packed with NYPD officers who were there to support Rodriguez as she testified.
Dockery has been charged with second-degree murder. CBS2 asked Dockery’s attorney about his client’s reaction to the emotional day.
“I will not discuss any comments about my client’s statements or reaction,” attorney Jesse Young replied.
Rodriguez also declined to comment when asked if there was anything she wanted to say about Dockery. But she said she will likely need a lung transplant as a result of her injuries from the fire.
Sources told CBS2 in 2014 that Dockery has a history of setting fires. His attorney claimed Dockery banged on doors trying to get people out of the building when he was unable to put out the fire.