The Brooklyn teen accused of setting a fire that killed a city police officer last weekend will now be charged second-degree murder. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
New York City police officers, many from the housing bureau, showed up to Brooklyn court in force Friday to keep an eye on the case of the teen accused of setting the mattress fire that resulted in the death of Officer Dennis Guerra and critically injured his partner, Rosa Rodriguez.
Jesse Young, the defense attorney for 16-year-old Marcell Dockery, said he understands the pain people are feeling.
"A hard-working, loyal, dutiful police officer lost his life in the service of his job. How is that not a tragedy?" Young said.
Young said members of the teen's family understand the tragedy as well. They were in court with two relatives that the lawyer said are marines.
Young argued that although the teen has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges, there should not be a rush to judgement.
Young: Is he to blame for what happened to that officer? You can't make it more plain than that.
Meminger: Is he responsible?
Young: No, he is not.
Officers Guerra and Rodriguez raced into a Coney Island building last Sunday and were hit with a wall of smoke when they got off the elevator on the 13th floor. Police said Dockery told them he set the mattress on fire because he was bored, but his attorney said the teen didn't have a lawyer when police said he made the statement.
"A judge and, ultimately, a jury will have to decide whether those were his words or whether those were words given after intense questioning with seasoned detectives," Young said.
Law enforcement sources said he made the statement on video.
Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson said, "We will bring the defendant to justice for these terrible and horrific crimes."
The defense pointed to reports from witnesses that the 16-year-old warned people about the fire, and they said that shows he is not guilty.
"It would certainly say something about his desire that nobody be hurt as a result of a fire," Young said.
The DA said the teen faces 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted of murder.