KABC Talk Radio – Los Angeles

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Los Angeles, November 26, 2013

A state legislator in New York is proposing a 25-year sentence on kids who sucker punch people in what law enforcement is calling the knockout game.

Some law enforcement officials believe these attacks are part of a disturbing trend known as “The Knockout Game,” in which perpetrators pummel innocent, unsuspecting victims. Incidents have been reported in England and in several states in the United States.

There have been at least two deaths from similar attacks this year. Surveillance video of teenagers in New Jersey shows the group running away after punching a man who then had a seizure and died.

Dr. Jeffrey Butts, Director of the Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, said the target is people over the age of 50, people with packages in their hands and people who look distracted.

On McIntyre in the Morning on KABC, Butts said this so called knockout game has been going on since the 1990’s.

“In terms of their motivation I think it’s just the thrill of dominating someone or getting away with it,” said Butts. “and you can tell as soon as the punch is thrown they runaway.”

James Addelspurger, a 51-year-old English teacher at a creative arts high school in Pittsburgh and a popular local blues musician, tells ABC news he was walking home one afternoon after work last year when he was attacked.

“I walked home through that alley for years, picked up a newspaper from the rack on the street, reading an article, put it through my arm, proceeded to walk through the alley, next thing I know, I was waking up answering questions to a police officer,” he said.

Addelspurger said he has no memory of the incident, but the attack was captured on surveillance footage, which showed a passing 15-year-old boy punching Addelspurger, who fell hard and smashed his face on the concrete.

The teen is now 16 and severed almost a year in a juvenile detention center.

“The friends walking with that individual say the boy was just troubled and he just lashed out at someone, its not like they were competing to see who can do it, it came out of nowhere,” said Butts.

There has been no evidence that this is some sort of organized crime or race attack according to Butts. He said they look for someone unlike them so that automatically introduces the possibility of racial difference but also age difference and class difference.

“I think its inappropriate to focus on race its just the thing we like to do in our culture because it’s the most obvious symbol of distance.”