Plea deal for flag­ger af­ter punch kills a man

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - THE DIS­TRICT BY KEITH L. ALEXAN­DER keith.alexan­der@wash­post.com

It started as an ar­gu­ment over traf­fic cones be­tween two men. A sin­gle punch was thrown caus­ing one of the men to fall back­ward, hit­ting his head on the street.

That man, 41-year-old Des­mond Joseph of North­east Wash­ing­ton, died of his in­juries. And Fri­day his as­sailant, Paul Ha­gans Jr. of Wal­dorf, pleaded guilty in D.C. Su­pe­rior Court to in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter in Joseph’s death. As part of the plea deal, Ha­gans faces five years in prison when he is sen­tenced Sept. 8.

Ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors, the two men got into an ar­gu­ment around 3:40 p.m. on March 2, when Ha­gans, 37, was work­ing as a con­struc­tion flag­ger in the 200 block of Rhode Is­land Av­enue NE. Joseph, while driv­ing his truck, ap­proached Ha­gans in an ef­fort to get to a build­ing where he worked. Joseph then got out of his truck and moved a traf­fic cone so his truck could pass.

Wit­nesses told au­thor­i­ties that Ha­gans con­fronted Joseph about mov­ing the cone. Ha­gans then punched Joseph in the head, caus­ing Joseph to fall back­ward and strike his head on the street. Joseph, who was un­armed, suf­fered a hematoma and later died.

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