A white Michigan man was charged with a federal hate crime on Tuesday in an attack on a Black teenager during which he repeatedly used racial slurs before striking him in the face with a bike lock, prosecutors said.
The man, Lee James Mouat, 42, of Newport, also said that the Black teenager and his friends were “playing gang music” and “don’t belong on this beach,” in the confrontation at Sterling State Park, about 38 miles south of Detroit, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Michigan.
The encounter, on June 6, came less than two weeks after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, which touched off protests around the country against police brutality and systemic racism.
Mr. Mouat was arrested shortly after the attack, which left the victim, Devin Freelon, 18, with a “facial fracture, facial lacerations and the loss of several teeth,” according to the complaint.
Mr. Mouat is already facing state felony charges of assault and ethnic intimidation. The new federal charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
A lawyer for Mr. Mouat did not respond to a telephone message Tuesday evening.
One witness said Mr. Mouat referred to the victim and his friends with a racial slur and also called them “monsters,” according to the complaint. “I want to hit them with this cooler” and “I wish someone would say something to me so I can beat them,” he said, according to this witness.
Another witness told investigators that Mr. Mouat yelled “Black lives don’t matter” at the defendant and his friends before the attack.
A friend of the victim told investigators that Mr. Mouat yelled at them twice, saying, “This is my beach.” Both times he referred to them as a racial slur, this friend said. He also said Mr. Mouat told the group that “I’ve got something for you in my car,” before he attacked the victim with the bike lock.
Mr. Freelon said he was retrieving a portable speaker from a vehicle in the beach’s parking lot when he was confronted by Mr. Mouat.
A GoFundMe page for Mr. Freelon raised more than $18,000 before a dentist’s office offered to provide free care.