NYC parolee who killed FDNY FF in road rage fit to spend 25 years to life in prison

Firefighter Faizal Coto, 33, had served in the department for 3 years


Noah Goldberg
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — An ex-con and reputed gang member will spend 25 years to life in prison for killing a city firefighter in a fit of road rage.

Joseph Desmond was sentenced in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday for the Dec. 9, 2018, bludgeoning death of FDNY Firefighter Faizal Coto on the Belt Parkway. He was found guilty of the crime in January.

“There were more lives for him to save, and you took it away,” said Ishmael Coto, Faizal Coto's brother, said as family members wept in the courtroom.
“There were more lives for him to save, and you took it away,” said Ishmael Coto, Faizal Coto's brother, said as family members wept in the courtroom. (Photo/FDNY/Tribune News Service)

The killer showed no remorse and proclaimed his innocence Friday as dozens of firefighters crammed into the courtroom and cheered the maximum sentence handed down by Judge Vincent Del Giudice.

Desmond clobbered Coto, fracturing his skull, after a minor car accident on the Belt Parkway. After that, he calmly walked back to his Infiniti and drove off, prosecutors said. Coto’s battered body was found beside his 2008 Ford Mustang on the shoulder of the highway near Exit 4 in Bath Beach.

The entire encounter lasted 15 seconds, prosecutors said.

Coto was rushed to Coney Island Hospital, where he died.

Desmond was nabbed at a motel in South Amboy, N.J., a day after the slaying.

When he killed Coto, he was on parole after a four-year prison stint for an anti-gay attack in Queens.

In that case, Desmond stormed up to his 23-year-old victim, called him a “f-----t,” and blasted him in the chest with the stun gun, court papers reveal.

Desmond, a reputed member of the Latin Kings gang, said, “I object to the trial in its entirety,” when given the chance to speak before his sentence was read Friday.

He claimed cops framed him and used “tampered evidence” in the case.

But Del Giudice shot down the killer’s argument, saying he’d presided over the entire trial and he knew Desmond was guilty beyond any doubt.

“You deprived people of this city a person who’s dedicated to responding to their need for help and assistance in times of crisis,” Del Giudice said. “It’s this court’s earnest hope and desire that you never, ever be released from prison.”

“His goal was to help people in times of their most need. You, sir, also have demonstrated your impact by your behavior,” the judge said. “Your contribution to society not only has been negative but it’s been devastating.”

Coto was a three-year FDNY veteran, assigned to Engine 245 / Ladder 161 in Brooklyn.

“Faizal Coto should be alive today with his family. He should be serving his community as a firefighter,” said Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio.

The fact that Desmond’s birthday was Friday was not lost on Coto’s brother.

“Today you turn 33 years old, the same age my brother was when you took his life,” said Ishmael Coto, calling it “poetic justice.”

The devastated sibling said the crime not only robbed him of a brother and his parents’ of a son — but stole a dedicated public servant from New Yorkers.

“There were more lives for him to save, and you took it away,” an emotional Ishmael Coto said as family members wept in the courtroom.

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©2022 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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