Feds: ‘Knockout’ attack was a hate crime

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(CNN) — A man charged with a federal hate crime in connection with a “knockout” assault against an elderly black man appears in court Friday afternoon for a detention hearing.

Authorities say the assault was racially motivated.

Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, of Katy, Texas, has been charged with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.

According to the federal complaint, Barrett attacked the 79-year-old man “because of the man’s race and color.”

The suspect made a video of the attack November 24, the complaint said. In the video, he allegedly commented that “the plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?”

He then allegedly “hit the man with such force that the man immediately fell to the ground. Barrett then laughed and said ‘knockout,’ as he ran to his vehicle and fled.”

The victim suffered two jaw fractures and was hospitalized for several days, the complaint said.

Barrett’s attorney, George Parnham, told CNN the affidavit does not “pull back the layers of mental health.”

His client has bipolar disorder and takes medication, Parnham said in an earlier call.

Parnham said he could not state whether his client carried out the attack, but, “mental health issues definitely played a part in anything that occurred.”

Barrett “is very sorry for this person,” Parnham said, adding that he and his client haven’t had much opportunity to discuss the facts of the case.

‘Knockout game’ a national problem

The “knockout game” is an assault in which an assailant aims to knock out an unsuspecting victim with one punch.

According to the Justice Department complaint, there have been “knockout game” incidents, some of which have been called other names, as long ago as 1992.

New York police previously charged suspect Marajh Amrit with a hate crime in the alleged attack of a white Jewish man as part of a “knockout” game.

Similar cases have been reported recently in several states, including Illinois, Missouri and Washington.

“Hate crimes tear at the fabric of entire communities,” U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels said Thursday in a Justice Department statement announcing the charge against Barrett. “As always, the Civil Rights Division will work with our federal and state law enforcement partners to ensure that hate crimes are identified and prosecuted, and that justice is done.”

Barrett, who is white, allegedly recorded himself on his cell phone attacking the man and showed the video to others, the department said. “The complaint alleges Barrett made several videos, one in which he identifies himself and another in which he makes a racial slur. In addition, Barrett had allegedly been working up the ‘courage’ to play the ‘knockout game’ for approximately a week.”

The victim’s face was swollen on one side, and he has had to use a straw to drink, a nephew, Joseph Lewis, told CNN affiliate KTRK-TV in Houston.

The station reported that Barrett faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Barrett told an off-duty police officer what happened and shared a video, saying he felt bad, the affidavit said.

In other videos on his phone that police confiscated, Barrett used the N-word and said that African-Americans “haven’t fully experienced the blessing of evolution,” according to the criminal complaint.

“It is unimaginable in this day and age that one could be drawn to violently attack another based on the color of their skin,” said Special Agent in Charge Stephen Morris of the FBI’s Houston office. “We remind all citizens that we are protected under the law from such racially motivated attacks, and encourage everyone to report such crimes to the FBI.”

New York case

In a separate case, New York City police on Wednesday searched for a man who allegedly punched a 33-year-old woman in the back of the head in Brooklyn in what may be a “knockout” assault.

Despite that and other cases, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said last month that city officials haven’t seen evidence of a trend, though they are not ruling out the idea.

“The press has named it the so-called knockout game. We don’t discount that that exists. It’s a possibility. We’ve investigated and will continue to investigate,” Kelly told reporters in late November.

By Joe Sterling and Josh Levs, CNN

CNN’s Morgan Winsor, Poppy Harlow and Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


  • Everyone

    Does this mean all the black kids doing it in St. Louis are guilty of hate crimes since they’ve attacked tons of white people?

    • Scott M

      why, yes they are as matter of fact, but you’re not allowed to talk about that.
      When journalists go to journalism school, they learn that only white people can be racist. When reality points in another direction, they don’t like it, so they ignore it.

  • Dennis P. Quinn

    Let me explain it to people that for what ever reason has a problem with grasping the situation. If I choose to knock ot a person who happens to be the same race as myself it is a assult. If I choose to knock out a person of another race it is a hate crime. What part don’t you get. Game on.

    • Mary

      The point everyone making is apparently lost on you. This ‘game’ has been going on for quite some time; however, it has been black people attacking white people. To this point none of them have been charged with a hate crime. According to your definition, this should have happened yet it didn’t. Are YOU clear now?

  • Julia Bowen

    This piece of scum needs to be put away forever! Anyone willing to harm an elderly person with total disregard for them and in such a horrible, heinous way needs to be put away forever! I truly hope the man gets better and I pray that it is soon! These kinds of crimes infuriate me and the hammer needs to drop on them and drop HARD!
    I hope he gets in a prison unit where the same is done to him and worse!

  • McKay

    You know if all the blacks would go back to Africa where they belong… we wouldn’t have so much crime as 99% of all crimes are done by blacks. wouldn’t have to pay out all that welfare. Wouldn’t be having kids every 9 months to get more state aid. Would just be better all around.

  • Scott M

    Now that it’s a white person attacking a black person, it’s a hate crime and the Feds are interested.

    For all of the hundreds of cases of “The Knockout Game” over the last year or two that involved black teens punching and even killing whites and Asians, the Feds weren’t interested, and you could barely read any press coverage. I seldom saw those incidents even mention in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    Selective outrage, with Eric Holder at the top of the heap. He’s a bona fide racist, along with his boss.

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