A Michigan man was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for a hate crime attack on a black teenager, the Justice Department announced.
Lee Mouat, 43, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of hate crimes, admitting to hitting 18-year-old Devin Freelon, Jr. in the face with a bicycle lock, knocked several of his teeth out and caused serious damage to his face for racially motivated reasons and attempts to attack another black teenager who was with Freelon.
On June 6, 2020, Mouat, who was drunk, left Lake Erie Sterling State Park with his family when he saw Freelon and a group of friends, all of whom were black, in the park̵
According to court documents, Mouat started shouting racial accusations against the group of teenagers and announced his desire to get into a fight.
Mouat then turned to Freelon and his friends, calling them the n-word, saying they “do not belong on this beach,” and that “black life does not matter.”
When one of the teens asked Mouat to stop cursing and using racist calls, he apologized and then went to his vehicle and picked up a heavy metal bike lock and returned to the group, saying, “I have something for you.”
Mouat then slapped Freelon in the face with the lock, knocking out three teeth and causing large wounds to the face and jaw.
When Freelon fell to the ground, Mouat kicked him in the face until he lost consciousness.
He tried to use the bike lock to attack another of teenagers while using racial slurs to stop him from striking back, but was stopped by the arrival of police who had been called to respond to the attack by a teenager. of Mouat’s daughters and a spectator.
Freelon was transported to a hospital by ambulance, and Mouat was arrested after a standoff with police that only ended when he was threatened with a taser.
On March 30, prosecutors reached an agreement with Mouat in which he pleaded guilty to the attack in exchange for the government’s recommendation to the court that he be sentenced to five years in prison instead of 10, which is the maximum prison term for a non-fatal attack. on hate crime.
“Our office is committed to protecting the rights of all citizens, and prosecuting hate crimes is a top priority,” said Michigan District Attorney Saima Mohsin in a statement Thursday. “The cowardly and unprovoked attack on this young victim is terribly disturbing. Every citizen has the right not to live in fear of violence or attack based on skin color. ”
After media coverage of the attack, a Michigan dentist reached out to Freelon and offered to give him free dental care worth $ 15,000 to replace the missing teeth and repair the oral damage.
Prior to dental implant surgery, the doctor donated his services to give the teenager temporary teeth the morning of his high school graduation, which took place five days after the attack, so he could attend the ceremony.