The teen accused of setting a mattress fire that killed an NYPD officer in 2014 denied igniting the fire in court on Tuesday and claimed he was coerced into giving a false confession by NYPD officers.
Marcell Dockery, 18, took the stand Tuesday morning and testified that after playing a game of basketball on the morning of April 6, 2014 he discovered the fire in hallway of his Coney Island apartment building, but did not set it.
"Once the elevator opens I turned the corner, there's a mattress that's just on fire," Dockery testified. "I knocked on the door to let my cousins know about the fire."
His defense attorney, Jesse Young, asked: "Did you have anything to do with that fire and that mattress?"
Dockery answered: "No."
Dockery then described in detail how three NYPD detectives coerced him into giving a false confession.
"They told me they could evict my family for what happened," Dockery testified. "They would make sure my family lived in shelter for the rest of their lives...my family was gonna be living in the street because of me," he said.
Dockery went on to explain that the detectives told him he wouldn't be charged with a crime if he confessed to setting the blaze.
"I just started crying. I felt hopeless. I started praying," Dockery said in court. "Detective Ramos smacks my hands and says I'm going to be in jail for the rest of my life...then Detective Nash said there's only one way out of this...if I say I did it I will never be charged with crime, I will never be arrested. "
"He said I swear to you on this cross right now it's all gonna be seen as an accident and everything is gonna be ok," Dockery said.
But during cross-examination Dockery admitted that he lied in Rikers Island to get preferential treatment and avoid solitary confinement.
"You would pretend and fake hanging yourself in order to move to another cell in the facility," Assisstant District Attorney Howard Jackson the teen.
"Yes," Dockery responded.
"You would actually be lying to get what you wanted right," Jackson asked.
"Yes...I would tell them things like I see colors, I hear sounds...that I wanted to kill myself, that way I would never ever get put in the box," Dockery conceded.
Dockery was seen on tape admitting to setting ablaze a mattress that later grew into a large inferno that killed officer Dennis Guerra and left his partner, Rosa Rodriguez, in a coma for 44 days on April 6, 2014.
"I was just bored," he said in the footage played previously in court. "When I set a fire a little bit I swore I just blew it out."
Dockery said in the confession that he was surprised when the hallway grew so smoky from the blaze, which he thought he had extinguished. He then admits to trying to warn his neighbors.
"I banged on her door," he said of a neighbor. "I was screaming, 'Yo it's a fire' and she told me, 'Run!'"
In the confession, Dockery can be heard to admitting setting fires since he was 9 years old -- once trying to spell his name out in a tub with flames -- and said he didn't tell police what he did because the blaze got so big.
"I was scared to tell them I started this," he said. "I was nervous in my heart."