A white Michigan man is now facing federal hate crime charges after confronting a group of Black teenagers and hitting one of them in the face with a bike lock. The incident occurred back in June, when 18-year-old after Devin Freelon Jr. and two of his friends were playing music near the waterfront William C. Sterling State Park in Monroe County.
According to a criminal complaint released to the public this week, 42-year-old Lee James Mouat Jr. engaged in an argument with the teenagers and began yelling racial slurs. The man allegedly screamed, ““Ni****s don’t belong on this beach!” before charging at the teens. Prosecutors say Mouat closed in on Freelon and hit him in the mouth with a “chain bike lock.” Witnesses nearby also told police they heard Mouat yell, “Black lives don't matter!” at the boys.
Freelon was left with three missing teeth and a fractured jaw from the incident. Monroe News reports that Mouat was arrested on charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, felonious assault and ethnic intimidation earlier this summer.
However, on Tuesday (Oct. 13), the U.S. Department of Justice announced additional federal hate crime charges against the man, including one count of “willfully causing bodily injury” to the teenager “because of his race.” Mouat is currently being held on $100,000 bond and has remained in jail since his June arrest. If convicted, he faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The FBI has also now opened an investigation into the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Carlson of the Eastern District of Michigan and Trial Attorney Tara Allison of the Civil Rights Division will reportedly serve as prosecutors.
As for the teen, he has since recovered from the attack and was gifted $15,000 worth of free dental work from Dr. Nawras Najor and Amazing Dental in Wyandotte, Michigan. Complex reports that he was able to have permeant implants installed in his mouth to correct his missing teeth.