A man is going to prison for five years for smashing a Black teen’s face with a bike chain at a beach, allegedly telling the boy “Black lives don’t matter,” before knocking his teeth out — a hate crime, federal officials said.
Lee Mouat, 43, of Newport, Michigan, admitted to his actions in March, pleading guilty to willfully causing bodily injury to an 18-year-old because of the teen’s race.
The incident happened in June 2020 at Sterling State Park in Monroe, Michigan, where Mouat confronted a group of Black teenagers, including the victim, 18-year-old Devin Freelon Jr.
It was about 7:45 p.m. on June 6 when Freelon heard an unfamiliar man yelling in the beach parking lot.
Freelon was retrieving a portable speaker from a vehicle while Mouat yelled racial slurs at his two friends and then started walking toward Freelon.
According to multiple witnesses, Mouat was upset about the teens playing music and was making racial comments about the teens as he walked toward the park with his family.
One witness said they heard Mouat say: “I wish someone would say something to me so I can beat them.”
Several minutes later, a commotion broke out in the parking lot, where Mouat allegedly told the group “Black lives don’t matter.”
A witness exchanged words with Mouat, and then Mouat later walked away, commenting: “I’ve got something for you in my car.”
Another witness assumed Mouat was leaving with his family. Instead, Mouat returned with the bike chain, swung it at the 18-year-old’s face, knocked him to the ground and then swung at the witness but missed.
Mouat later admitted that he repeatedly hurled racial slurs at the group and said that Black people had no right to use the public beach. Then he struck the teen in the face with a bike lock, knocking out several of his teeth, cutting his face and mouth, and fracturing his jaw. He also admitted to trying to strike another Black teen with the bike lock but missing.
“The defendant brutally attacked teenagers at a public beach because these young people are Black,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Hate-fueled violent crimes like this have no place in our communities. Protecting Americans from hate crimes is a top priority of the Justice Department, and we will use every tool available to bring perpetrators to justice.”
In addition to handing down a prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy ordered Mouat to serve three years supervised release.
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