A Texas man has been formally charged with a hate crime after participating in what prosecutors allege is the dangerous "knockout game." The 27-year-old man reportedly dealt a serious blow to a 79-year-old black man, violating the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Conrad Alvin Barrett allegedly filmed himself on his cellphone attacking the older gentleman, whom the press has refused to identify due to a special request from the victim.
"He's frail," the man's attorney, O'Neil Williams, told KTRK News. "There would be no mistaking that you were about to attack an old man."
The victim suffered two fractures to his jaw and spent more than four days in the hospital. Court documents state that Barrett "hit the man with such force that the man immediately fell to the ground. Barrett then laughed and said 'knockout' as he rant to his vehicle and fled."
Barrett not only filmed the attack, prosecutors state, but had 10 other videos on his cellphone, including one in which he says,
"The plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?" Another video features him making derogatory comments about African Americans, whom he says, "haven't fully experienced the blessing of evolution."
Barrett's attorney told the court that his client suffers from severe mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, and is on heavy medication. The attorney, George Parnham, told CNN that the documents do not "pull back the layers of mental health" and that "mental health issues definitely played a part in anything that occurred."
The knockout game, as it's known, has become somewhat of a national trend, with people attempting to knock out another, unsuspecting victim, with one clear blow. The trend is leading to worrying headlines and increased violence, but legislators are taking notice and proposing new laws that would seriously punish anyone who participated in the "game."
"Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated," U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of Texas said in a statement. "Evidence of hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted with the assistance of all our partners to the fullest extent of the law."
If found guilty of the crime, Barrett faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.