Michigan Man Gets 5 Years for Attacking Black Teen With Bike Lock in Hate Crime

A Michigan man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for attacking a Black teenager with a bike lock.

Lee Mouat, 43, of Newport, Michigan pleaded guilty on March 4 to "willfully causing bodily injury to a Black teenager because of the teenager's race." Along with his five-year prison sentence, he also was given three years of supervised release.

The incident took place in Monroe, Michigan in June of 2020. Mouat approached a group of Black teenagers while at Sterling State Park. Mouat then began to use racial slurs toward the group of teenagers, stating that they had no right to be at the public beach section of the park.

The victim, 18-year-old Devin Freelon Jr., was amongst the group of teenagers. He was struck in the mouth with a bike lock by Mouat, cutting his face and fracturing his jaw. Freelon also lost several teeth in the attack. Mouat then attempted to hit another one of the teenagers in the group with the bike lock to no avail.

Police Lights File Photo
File photo of Police Lights Getty Images

Mouat admitted to the crime through a plea agreement and court documents.

"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."

Along with the Michigan Department of Justice, the case was also handled by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Carlson of the Eastern District of Michigan and Trial Attorney Tara Allison of the Civil Rights Division.

"Combating hate crimes and protecting individual's civil rights is one of the top priorities of the FBI," said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI Detroit Field Office. "Mouat was held accountable for his violent and hateful actions due to the collaborative efforts of the FBI, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, and the Department of Justice. The outcome of this case sends a clear message to our community that law enforcement at every level will investigate crimes motivated by hate and bring the perpetrators to justice."

"Our office is committed to protecting the rights of all citizens, and prosecuting hate crimes is a top priority," said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin for the Eastern District of Michigan. "The cowardly and unprovoked attack on this young victim is terribly disturbing. Every individual citizen has the right to not live in fear of violence or attack based on the color of their skin."

Newsweek reached out to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for further comment.