A white Michigan man who pleaded guilty to beating a black teenage boy with a metal bicycle lock said he attacked the teenager because of his race.
Lee James Mouat, 43, was charged with a federal hate crime in the June 6, 2020 attack in the parking lot at Sterling State Park in Monroe, Michigan. The victim, identified by local media as Devin Freelon Jr., suffered facial injuries and several of his teeth were knocked out when Mouat hit him with the lock.
Mouat, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday, confronted the victim and two of his friends at the park after complaining about the loud music. The plea deal states that Mouat commented on the band’s “ghetto” music, shouted “Black life doesn’t matter,” the teens called the N word and said black people did not belong to the beach in Sterling State Park.
He then proceeded to his vehicle and retrieved a “metal chain-shaped bicycle lock” and returned to the group.
“Mouat then swung and hit DF in the face with the bicycle lock, knocking out three of DF’s teeth, lacerating DF’s face and mouth and fracturing his jaw,” read the plea agreement. Mouat also flipped the bike lock on a second black teenager, TG, but missed it. Mouat continued to wield the bike lock and walk towards TG saying, ‘Come here, n —- -. ‘”
The court document indicates that Mouat attacked the adolescents “because of the race of DF and TG”.
“In other words, Mouat willfully caused bodily harm to DF and attempted to cause bodily harm to TG, because they are black,” it read.
Freelon told an FBI agent he was at the park with his friends and heard Mouat yelling racist slurs at them, according to a criminal complaint.
The teenager said he went to his car to get a portable speaker and when he returned to where his friends were standing, Mouat walked up to him and “threw an object”, hitting him in the middle. face.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office assistants arrived several minutes after the attack. Freelon was taken to hospital for treatment for lacerations and a broken face and the loss of several teeth.
Devin Freelon Sr. told NBC affiliate WDIV-TV that his 19-year-old son needed dental treatment.
“It’s really hard to see your son every day with missing teeth and only 19. Nobody should go through that,” he said.
Several witnesses in the park told authorities that before the attack, they overheard Mouat using racist slurs and threatening to harm the teenagers. According to a witness, Mouat said he wanted “someone to tell me something so that I can beat them,” says the criminal complaint.
Another witness said Mouat threatened to hit the teenagers’ heads if they didn’t turn down the music.
Mouat was arrested and charged in February for willfully inflicting bodily harm on the victim on the basis of the victim’s race and attempting to cause bodily harm to the second teenager. Under the terms of the agreement, Mouat pleaded guilty to the first count.
He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000. Mouat’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Pamela Karlan condemned Mouat’s actions.
“Hate incidents like this have no place in civilized society,” Karlan said in a statement. “The Department of Justice is committed to using every tool in its law enforcement arsenal to prosecute acts of violence motivated by hate.”
“The young victim in this case suffered enormously from this vicious racially motivated assault. Every citizen has the right not to live in fear of violence or attacks based on the color of their skin, ”added acting US prosecutor Saima Mohsin.
Mouat’s sentencing is scheduled for June 24.