A Houston TX teenager was charged this week for a federal hate crime for allegedly taking a video of himself as he sucker punched a 79 year old black man in an attack that seemed to be one of the ‘knockout game’ attacks that have swept the nation in recent months.
Conrad Barrett, 27, appeared in court before US Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy on Thursday. She scheduled a detention hearing for the man on Friday.
According to federal prosecutors, the attack occurred on Nov. 24 in Katy. But it was not until two weeks later that the police connected the attack to a cellphone video of it that surfaced.
The police learned about the case because Barrett showed the video the night of the attack to an off duty investigator of arson he had met at a nearby restaurant. The criminal complaint stated that Barrett asked the investigator if the woman and he knew about the new knockout game. He said that he had played it earlier in the day and showed them his video.
The investigator then found a uniformed police officer and took him to Barrett.
The attack video did not show the attacker’s face, but the investigators were able to match the voice in the video to Barret’s voice. And the couple who were at the restaurant reported that Barrett wore the same shorts and shoes there as in the video.
In the federal investigation, prosecutors stated that the video shows the attacker approaching the victim and asks him how is it going? A loud hitting sound can be heard, and then the victim falls down. Barrett is heard to laugh and say ‘knock out.’ He then took off in his car.
The victim of the attack lost three teeth and also needed surgery to fix his jaw; it was broken in two places. He was in the hospital for almost a week.
Investigators retrieved several other videos from his phone. Some of them had racial epithets and talk about trying to get up the courage to play the knockout game. He stated in one video that the plan was to see if he hit a black person, if it would make it on national TV.
The US Attorney on the case stated this week that these types of racial crimes will not be tolerated in modern society. He noted that any evidence of hate crimes is going to be investigated seriously and fully prosecuted at the state and federal levels.
His defense attorney has stated that Barrett suffers from a bipolar disorder and has been on heavy medications for treatment. He noted that Barrett’s family is very sympathetic to the person who was attacked. His attorney stated that if you look at the mindset of Barrett at the time of the attack, it is clear he had a mental issue at the time.
If he is convicted, he is facing up to 10 years in prison and fined as much as $250,000.
The Anti-Defamation League states that states also can levy hate crime charges if the race of the victim was a factor in the crime. Also, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act also allows the federal government to give assistance to an investigation and prosecution of such crimes at the state level.