HOUSTON — A man has been charged with a federal hate crime in connection with what authorities say was a racially motivated “knockout” assault against an elderly black man, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday.
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.
According to the complaint, Barrett attacked the elderly man in November because of the man’s race and color in what Barrett called a “knockout.”
The “knockout game” is an assault in which an assailant aims to knock out an unsuspecting victim with one punch.
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 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 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.”
Barrett is white, a federal law enforcement official said.
The victim’s face was swollen on one side, and he has had to suck out of a straw in order to drink, a nephew, Joseph Lewis, told KTRK-TV in Houston.
Barrett allegedly told an off-duty police officer what happened and even shared a video, saying he felt bad, the TV station reported.
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.
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