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The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

Oklahoma Looks to Tackle the "Knockout Game"

Adam Banner - Tuesday, December 03, 2013

In recent weeks, the “knockout game” has besieged headlines across the nation as a violent and dangerous “game” that is injuring unsuspecting victims in major metropolitan areas across the United States.

An Oklahoma lawmaker is urging legislators to take a proactive approach to try to keep these random assaults from breaching the Sooner State’s borders.

With that in mind, criminal attorneys may see the assault laws modified a bit.

In the knockout game, or Knockout, a group of young people—generally young men—selects a target at random. One of the group then attempts to render the victim unconscious with a single punch. To do so is to perform the “no hitter quitter,” and while the act is supposed to be a display of machismo and strength, there is nothing proven by the ability to knockout a completely helpless and unprepared opponent. I'd venture to bet that most those punks have probably never tried that on someone staring them in the face. Victims have included a 78-year-old woman and a 12-year old boy.

In some cases, Knockout has been fatal, being attributed to as many as 7 deaths, although some sources confirm just two deaths this year.

  • In September, a 46-year-old man struck from behind died when he fell into an iron fence. He was found with a broken neck and his head wedged between the fence posts. Two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old were charged in his death.
  • In June, a 43-year-old man was killed by a 17-year-old who attempted to knock him out with a single punch.
  • In May, a 51-year-old man was beaten to death in an assault that started with a 13-year-old attempting to knock him out with one punch. The 13-year-old and a 16-year-old have been charged in his death.
  • Also in May, an 18-year-old was sentenced for the death of a 78-year-old man who died after the younger man struck him in the head.

The media has seized on the “game” as an example of “youth gone wild.” However, the game is not particularly new, with reports of similar attacks dating back to 1992. With the advent of social media and video of these assaults being posted to YouTube and Facebook, the game seems to be spreading as troubled youth find a new way to spread their mischief and seek their 15 minutes of fame.

In Oklahoma, Representative Bobby Cleveland hopes to stop the “game” before it takes hold in the state by proposing legislation that would strengthen the penalties for the random assaults.

Currently, a random attack in which a person was hit with a single punch would generally be charged as simple assault and battery, a misdemeanor punishable by only 90 days in jail, unless serious bodily injury occurs. If the act results in “great bodily injury,” it is charged as aggravated assault and battery, a felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison.

Rep. Cleveland is the Vice Chair of the Appropriations and Budget Public Safety Committee. He serves District 20, including Cleveland, Garvin, McClain, and Pottawatomie counties. He believes random attacks preying on unsuspecting and vulnerable victims should carry a harsher penalty than those currently in place. His measure would make such an offense a felony punishable by 10 years in prison, and any juvenile accused of the crime could be charged as an adult.

Legislators across the nation are proposing similar measures, hoping that the weighty consequences will help discourage random assaults.

 






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