The nature and origins of the “Knockout Game” are mysterious. It is possible that such a ‘game’ does not even exist. By most accounts, the ‘game’ is played by attempting to knock out a complete and unsuspecting stranger with one punch and several sources reveal that tales of this practice go all the way back to Massachusetts in 1992 when a Norwegian exchange student (name withheld to protect privacy) was accidentally murdered by 3 teenage assailants who claimed to be playing the game when the incident occurred. There are also claims that the game has been played in West Rogers Park, Chicago; St. Louis, Missouri; Syracuse, New York, and as far away as Bolton, Lancashire. Life sentences were handed out in some of these cases, but the question as to whether or not the “Knockout Game” is real still remains unanswered.
Yet, this shadowy and strange practice seems to have made its way to the Bay area. A woman was recently accosted in a Los Gatos mall (the Blossom Hill Square Shopping Center) and local law enforcement officials have claimed that her experience may have been due to youths playing the “Knockout Game.” Whether or not the incident in Blossom Hill Square Shopping Center was related to the game is irrelevant when it comes to legal considerations. Although Assemblyman James Tedisco has sponsored a ballot measure in New York that would allow juveniles to be tried as adults if it could be proven that a particular crime was related to the “Knockout Game,” such a measure is not necessary. Per California law (CA Penal Code 240-245) takes the crime of “assault” very seriously. Under CA Penal Code 240, for example, is considered a misdemeanor assault charge and could result in probation, a max fine of up to $1,000, and 6 months in county jail. It remains to be seen how the assailant in the Los Gatos case will be prosecuted.