Surviving NYPD partner testifies at arson trial of teenager

CONEY ISLAND, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The surviving partner of an NYPD officer who died in a fire in Coney Island took the stand Monday in the trial of the teenager accused of starting it.

It was a very emotional day in court, with the family of Officer Dennis Guerra, who died in the fire, hearing his last words and the testimony of his partner.

Rosa Rodriguez, the surviving officer, speaking in barely a whisper from her injuries, arrived at court to testify against Marcel Dockery, on trial for murder, arson and assault. He's accused of a setting a mattress on fire at the Coney Island high rise in April 2014, when he was 16.

Rodriguez was supported by fellow officers, who packed the courtroom to hear her testimony.

She told how she and Guerra answered the call, taking an elevator to the 13th floor, where smoke quickly overwhelmed them.

"I couldn't see," she said. "We were able to walk into the hallway, but we couldn't breathe well."

Both officers, in the thick, choking smoke, tried to find the emergency exit.

"I remember holding onto Guerra's shoulder," she said. "I was holding onto him, because I couldn't see. We were calling for help."

And then the court heard Guerra's haunting last words on a radio transmission.

"85! 85!" he yelled, in the final call for help.

Firefighters rescued the pair, but Guerra died from his injuries.

"I can't breath well," Rodriguez said of her current condition. "I can't walk long distances. I can't play with my kids anymore."

Defense attorney Jesse Young declined to cross examine her.

"She did her job that day, and she suffered because of it," he said.

Guerra's mother and father left the courtroom, visibly shaken by the proceeding.

Rodriguez testified that she'll need to have a lung transplant, as she painfully endures her injuries.

Dockery turned down a plea deal to serve 22 years behind bars. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
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