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POLITICS: PennAve

Justice Department charges Texas man with hate crime over 'knockout game'

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Crime,Texas,PennAve,Sean Lengell,Justice Department,Civil Rights,Race and Diversity

Federal authorities have charged a Texas man with a hate crime after prosecutors say he took part in a so called "knockout game" that involves random attacks on pedestrians.

The Justice Department says Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, of Katy, Texas, attacked a 79-year-old black man Nov. 24 because of the man's race and color in what Barrett called a "knockout."

“Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas. “Evidence of hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted with the assistance of all our partners to the fullest extent of the law.”

Barrett is accused of recording the attack on his cell phone before showing it to others. Authorities say he made several videos — one in which he identifies himself and another in which he makes a racial slur. He also was accused of working up the "courage" for several weeks to play the knockout game.

The knockout game is an attack in which an assailant aims to knock out an unsuspecting victim with one punch. The activity has been called by other names and there have been similar incidents dating as far back as 1992, the Justice Department says.

Authorities say Barrett comments in one video that “the plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?" They say Barrett says in the video that he would not hit “defenseless people,” just moments before he punches the elderly man in the face.

Prosecutors say Barrett hit the man with such force that the man fell to the ground. They say Barrett laughed and said "knockout" as he ran to his vehicle and fled.

The victim, who federal officials didn't identify, suffered two jaw fractures and was hospitalized for several days as a result of the attack.

"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 FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Morris. "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."

Barrett has been charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. If convicted, he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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Sean Lengell

Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner