March 29, 2021 By Christina Santucci
An off-duty firefighter was arrested and charged with assault in connection to a bar fight that left a 55-year-old man dead in Whitestone early Saturday.
Firefighter Justin Deieso, 35, allegedly punched Whitestone resident Devin Deegan during a scuffle at the back of Terrace Inn Bar on Francis Lewis Boulevard, police said.
Emergency responders were called to the tavern just after 4 a.m. Saturday morning, and officers found Deegan, lying on the ground and with trauma to the back of his head. Deegan was rushed to Flushing Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Deieso was arrested at the scene and later released without bail on a misdemeanor assault charge.
Sources told The NY Post that Deieso allegedly punched Deegan, sending him flying backwards and onto the ground, where he struck his head on the pavement when he landed. Police believe that Deegan may have also suffered a heart attack, the Daily News reported.
An attorney for Deieso maintained his client’s innocence. “It’s a case of self-defense for sure,” the lawyer, Robert Gallo, told The Post.
Deieso has worked as a firefighter for the past seven years and is currently stationed at Ladder Company 122 in Park Slope. He has been suspended without pay for up to 28 days as the incident is being investigated, the FDNY said
Deieso is scheduled to appear in Queens Criminal Court on May 14, according to court records.
The NYPD said that the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of Deegan’s death, and the investigation was ongoing.
Deegan worked as an electrician and cared for his parents until they died several years ago, neighbors told The Post. He lived about five blocks from Terrace Inn Bar, located at 20-05 Francis Lewis Boulevard.
It is not clear if Terrace Inn Bar had been open when the fight took place. Restaurants and bars in New York State are only permitted to stay open until 11 p.m., under executive orders put into place by the governor last month.