Staten Island Man Indicted for Fatal Assault of Off-Duty Firefighter On Belt Parkway Following Minor Fender Bender

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Staten Island Man Indicted for Fatal Assault of Off-Duty Firefighter
On Belt Parkway Following Minor Fender Bender

Defendant Allegedly Struck Victim in the Head, Left the Scene

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 29-year-old man has been indicted on a charge of second-degree murder for assaulting and causing the death of an off-duty firefighter earlier this month. The victim suffered multiple skull fractures and hemorrhaging from a fatal blow to the head.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We allege that this defendant viciously and senselessly attacked a dedicated and beloved city firefighter who was committed to public service. There is no place on the streets of Brooklyn for such mindless violence. We will now seek to get justice for the victim and his heartbroken loved ones.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joseph Desmond, 29, of Staten Island. The defendant was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent DelGiudice on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on March 1, 2019. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, in the early morning hours of December 9, 2018, the defendant and the victim, Faizal Coto, 33, were both traveling east-bound on the Belt Parkway when they had a minor collision. It is alleged that both drivers pulled over to the side of the road near Exit 4 at 14th Avenue/Bay 8th street.

A passerby traveling west-bound saw the victim in distress, drove to assist him and called 911. The victim, who was an off-duty firefighter assigned to Engine 245 in Brooklyn, was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim was struck once in the left temple and the cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.

The defendant was arrested the following day after license plate readers picked up the plate number of his 2006 Infiniti G35 on the Belt Parkway near the victim’s car at the same approximate time and in the vicinity of the incident. Police tracked down the defendant to a motel in South Amboy, New Jersey. He waived extradition and was returned to New York earlier today.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Senior Assistant District Attorney Sara Gronningsater, of the District Attorney’s Blue Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.


An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.