Law enforcement officials across the nation are concerned about a disturbing new game that has surfaced known simply as “knockout”. The aim of this game is to knock a stranger out (render him or her unconscious) with a single blow. This game may be driven in part by social media. This game is dangerous and has already proved fatal.
CNN reports that Ralph Santiago, a 46 year old homeless man in New Jersey, was struck from behind on Sept. 10 and subsequently died. He was a victim of knockout.
Hoboken detective Anthony Caruso said, “The blow knocked out Santiago, who had a pre-existing brain injury. He suffered a seizure. The victim’s body struck a nearby fence, with part of the wrought iron fence piercing his body and killing him.” Three teens were charged.
Knockout is not isolated to the Garden State. Similar incidents have been reported in New York, Illinois, Missouri, and Washington.
What’s behind this violent trend that’s marketed as a joke on social media platforms? Youth violence expert Chuck Williams says, “Negative attention is often rewarded. That’s America. America loves violence, and so do our kids. We market violence to our children and we wonder why they’re violent. It’s because we are. … These kids know the consequences. They want to get arrested. They want to get caught, because they want that notoriety. They know they won’t go away forever because they’re kids. It’s a win-win all around for them.”
Unfortunately, as ludicrous as it sounds, it isn’t just teens playing knockout. The New York Times has been reporting on the case of Barry Baldwin who has been charged with six attacks on women in connection with knockout; Mr. Baldwin is 35 and is facing very serious charges. Since five of his victims are Jewish, he has been charged with committing a hate crime.
Some law enforcement officials are concerned about knockout getting too much media attention. They’re worried it will spawn additional incidents and copycats. Raymond Kelly, the New York police commissioner said, “When you highlight an incident or a type of criminal activity, some people will simply try to copy it. It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen before.”
Some think that stiffer penalties will help discourage incidents of knockout. Republican New York State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has proposed legislation he’s calling “Knockout Assault Deterrent Act” which calls for juveniles charged with knockout crimes to be tried as adults.
What can you do to protect yourself? First off, if you have teenagers talk to them about knockout. Make sure that they know this is not acceptable behavior and that it could have serious consequences. They could face jail time as well as financial repercussions. As for your personal protection, police are calling for added awareness. Pay attention to your surroundings rather than your smartphone, tablet, or iPod.
If you are attacked in an act of knockout violence, contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney.