Lawyer: ‘Knockout video’ teen suffers from mental issues
The 18-year-old charged with slugging a man standing on a Paterson sidewalk suffers from several psychological issues, according to his attorney.
Harley Breite, the attorney representing 18-year-old Kristian Gonzalez, told New Jersey 101.5 his client, a senior at Great Falls Academy in Paterson, takes medication for schizophrenia, obsessive defiant disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Breite said Gonazlez, who turned 18 just after the incident and who turned himself in Tuesday, will be arraigned on Wednesday.
Paterson Police on Saturday announced charges of aggravated assault and endangering an injured victim against a 16-year-old Paterson boy, who also turned himself in on Saturday, and Gonzalez, who waited until Tuesday to surrender. The 16-year-old captured the incident on a so-called "knockout game" video that spread broadly on social media, authorities say.
"He's an 18-year old kid with mental and psychological difficulties and he's scared. He needed to know how to do this correctly and he needed the right person to do it," said Breite of the delay.
Brite said Gonzalez knows the 16-year-old but does not know their relationship.
Breite said that many questions remain about the video. "Before we make a rush to judgement we should know whether that is the entire video, what precipitated that video , has that video been edited or tampered with."
Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale later said the incident was first reported on Dec. 7 but was unsolved until the public brought the "knockout video" to the attention of police. Speziale said detectives "had to work backwards" to connect the video and the punching incident.
Gonzalez and the 16-year-old are being held in the Essex County Detention Center because Passaic does not have a juvenile justice system in place according to Speziale, who said it's up to the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office to decide if Gonzalez will be tried as an adult or teen.
Paterson police said this weekend they were charging two teens — a 16-year-old who turned himself in, and a Gonzalez, then described as a 17-year-old who was still being sought.
Police have said Gonzalez (though they did not identify him by name at the time) is seen in the video punching the man at the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Van Houten Street on Dec. 7.
"This shameless act of violence was thoroughly investigated and the tireless efforts by the detectives involved is commendable," Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale said in a statement cited in multiple reports, before the announcement that the second teen planned to surrender. "The juvenile at large will continue to be sought with the same tenacity and will face swift and decisive justice for this senseless act of violence."
In the video, a young man approaches the apparent victim as others off-camera yell "don't hit him." The a young man says something to the person that cannot be heard.
The young man turns back to the camera, and another voice — allegedly that of the 16-year-old — tells him "knock him out." The teen on camera throws a punch at the victim, who falls flat, as an off-camera voice laughs heartily.
Police ask anyone with information about the incident to contact them at 973-321-1111.