Feds: ‘Knockout’ Attack Was a Hate Crime

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(Photo Credit: Texas Department of Public Safety via CNN)

(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 a racially motivated.

(Photo Credit: Texas Department of Public Safety via CNN)

(Photo Credit: Texas Department of Public Safety via CNN)

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.

43 comments

  • Joy Zephyr Malson

    Of course this has to be a hate crime and make national news! Because the victim was black and the attacker was white!! What about all the incidents where the black race is playing this game every where and “knocking out” the white people … that doesn’t make a national headline does?!

    • Deb

      totally agree with you –when it’s white against black it’s always Headlines about racism –when it’s reversed black against white it usually doesn’t make Headlines and is never mentioned to be Racist reason ???

    • Marchelle

      Yes finally someone other than myself sees the truth! When it’s black against whites nobody cares or seems to notice but as soon as it’s a white person it’s national headline! And blacks start protesting and crying racism! I could say more but I’m just tired of it. The white man messed up bad!!!!

    • ricky

      Totally agree. Whites still making reparations centuries later. This game is mostly played by african americans. Have seen countless casws but fiest ever hate crime. Im sure its because the assailant was white for a change. We need a voice like african americans have.

    • readthefullarticle!

      I am so sick of people like you read the whole article.It clearly talks about another victim was attacked who was white. These are racially motivated attacks weather it is black on black black on white white on black Arabic on white etc. But as usual people like you read things and then ignore the other details once you read a part you don’t like.

  • Tammi

    The report said HE wanted to see if it would make national news so he made a video and showed people. Naturally that would get you a place in the spotlight. Regardless to whatever race you are its WRONG, and the always claim mental health issues made them do it yea right. Everyone has some type of mental health issue dealing with day to day struggles of life. #wiseuppeople

    • blt

      Thanks, Tammi. Everytime something goes one , racism always rears it ugly head. God does not care about color, only stupid people do. We all have to answer one day no matter the color. Also, thanks to you Gigi.

  • Julia

    Joy-there are many incidents where the “black race” are playing this game on national news as well!? They put up one about a white boy and you have to say something ignorant. There are incidents of several different races that made national news. Maybe because he knocked out and elderly man that this one in particular made it. Or maybe his disturbing mugshot…hopefully his “mental illness” won’t play a factor and they throw the book at him!

  • Julia

    This is a hate crime…and for you to say you haven’t seen someone of the “black” race on national news accused of a hate crime while playing knockout makes me wonder if you are just watching one news channel? I have seen more stories of other races playing this game than white…as a white woman myself I could care less what races made it to national news! This game just needs to stop! There are some stories where their victim actually fights back and wins.

  • ElusiveFacts (@ElusiveFacts)

    The blacks invented this against whites. The last I heard they were trying to figure if they could call that a hate crime. A white thug does it and all hell breaks loose. Personally, they should take anyone who does this and do a lead injection on them.

  • state_facts

    Oh this is OK…you know according to the duck dynasty dude hate is OK and all boomers should thank the lord above for helping us to promote hate. Right old angry boomers you OK with this

  • John Smith

    EQUALITY ……. EQUALITY …… EQUALITY ……. “equal protection under the law” unless your white. Equal protection under the law or some such nonsense.

    We shall overcome ….. we shall over-come ……

  • Deyandra

    Let me get this straight. A young man knocks out a 79 year old stranger and all of you adults take this as an opportunity to show how racist you are instead of showing compassion for the victim. Wow. I no longer wonder where these young people are getting their aggression from. Shame on all of you. And as for Joy- the ‘blacks’ do not get together and decide on things, we act as individuals just like any other race. WE do not decide what gets labeled a hate crime, WE do not decide who commits crimes nor who the victim is and WE do not condone a crime if it’s committed against a person who is not black. Take off your hood and step into the 21st century.

    • Nate

      A person is racist for questioning the reasoning behind labeling this a hate crime while all of the other knock-out events are treated as a general assault?

      Get over yourself and look at the facts.

      Making hate crimes more punitive over general assault crimes is utterly mind-boggling, any assault has malice(hate) involved.

    • Ivan

      Nobody is condoning what this punk did to an old man, it was dead wrong! What people are doing is showing their outrage over the double standard from the Obama administration – black on white crime is “okay” and is never a “hate crime.” Over 99% of the attacks like this are black on white and Obama’s people are dead silent until there is a white on black attack. Where is YOUR outrage?

  • Remi

    It doesn’t matter the skin tone… This young thug assaulted an elderly man. That’s the biggest issue here. And on top of that he CONFIRMED it was a hate crime yet you all still wanna go about with the “oh a white person does it and its publicized, but the blacks do it and its not that serious” grow up! You all are what’s wrong with these kids now. You are who they learn it from. Smh. And this is coming from a 26 yo black male with friends of ALL RACES. I hate prejudice with a passion

    • Ivan

      Probably 99% of these types of crimes are black on white but the black community is silent until it is white on black crime. Nobody is condoning what this kid but it certainly exposes the double standard the Obama administration has for justice.

      I carry a gun all the time and will blow the head off the first punk that tries this with me – and then stand over his body and laugh at him in front of his punk friends hoping they will turn on me so I can do society a favor and eliminate them, too.

      • Jay

        99%. Why did the government come up with hate crime laws? What percentage of whites were being prosecuted for killing, robbing, raping, other cultures were getting decent sentences? Something must have been wrong for the law to have ever come up.

  • Jim

    White against black? black against White? Not one sided in society? Well, let’s see here—– naacp, civil liberties, al sharpton, jesse jackson,, all for the black race and black race ONLY!!!! Now for the White race back-up, ???????
    Tell me now who has favoritism on their side??????

  • Gigi

    Crime is crime – I don’t care what color you are! How would you like to be a family member of someone who is a victim! I don’t care if they are PURPLE. This kid knew what he was doing at the time-he’s sick alright, I hope his parents are proud of his smug “mug shot”. What kind of COWARD attacks an unsuspecting person going about their life. I’m also sick of hearing about Martin Luther King – a little thanks to good old ABE. Black, white, purple, green, doesn’t matter. More aggression from our justice department and police force. Unfortunately we are surrounded by a..holes.

  • Valerie Whittington

    It’s A Shame For Someone To Attack A 79 Year Old >>> No Matter What Color. So He Really Need To Pay For What He Did.

  • Michael Hostetler

    I agree with everyone this kid should be prosecuted & thrown in prison… As all should if they hurt someone else… But so should the black kids who have done the same crime… Fair is fair there should be no arguing that point… Why should he have a so called “Hate Crime” against him instead of a felony assault and the Black kids dont… Blacks can be racist too… We all have the power to be racist… But if the hate crime laws are not going to be enforced equally then they need to be abolished…

  • Brenda

    An elderly man had his jaw broken in two places by a violent criminal once again using “mental health” as an excuse. I hope this punk gets the maximum sentence.

  • ricky

    Whites are too afraid to stand up for themselves in this ultra politically correct world. Im called white boy daily and bet if i said the word black boy, which is fine if white boy is fine, then i would be called a raciat

  • John Smith

    White people are sooooooooo hopelessly na├»ve and utterly street stupid. They allow themselves to be duped and intimidated by the BIG BLACK BOOGEYMAN …… BOO!

  • Kae

    Everyone who has just posted an angry comment about ‘the Other race’ is continuing racism. Please stop. If you are unable to keep your emotions in check and evaluate each individual case impassionately, please step back from the conversation until such time that you ARE able.

    And next time you go out, try to find someone of ‘the Other race’ to make friends with, try to make them part of your life, and discover how similar we all are, despite (or because of) our life experiences. There are plenty of people of a different color in the world that you would like if you had a chance to know them, and plenty of the same color who would rub you completely the wrong way.

    And please, if you want to be seen as an adult, try to spell correctly at least most of the time. Big words aren’t needed, but taking the time to check your spelling will pay off, now and later.

  • fromear2ear

    One of the many things that concern me about this is that his attorney cites bipolar disorder and taking medication as part of his defense. I have bipolar disorder, I take medication for it, and I would never even consider committing such a heinous crime. Using bipolar or related diagnoses as an excuse for stuff like this adds to the stigma we fight on a daily basis and dehumanizes those of us who struggle with mental illness. Smh

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