Connecticut lawmakers are reviewing a bill that would give stiffer penalties to people who commit the knockout game.
The bill was discussed during a public hearing of the General Assembly's Public Safety Committee where lawmakers heard testimony about it on Tuesday.
Among the supporters is a West Hartford father whose 18-year-old son's face was damaged after being punched in the head.
"My son has two titanium plates in his jaw. He has eight screws in this jaw and it was broken in multiple places," said West Hartford police Officer Tom Nagle.
Nagle said his son is in rehab after being a victim of the knockout game.
"He's been wired shut and has to have his meals through a straw," Nagle said. "He's lost some weight. He's rehabilitating and our family is concentrating on him getting well."
His son is a college student in Massachusetts and was walking back to his dorm room when someone came up from behind and punched him in the head.
Police said Nagle's son was the third person that night to be sucker punched in an unprovoked attack and without any warning.
Lawmakers want to toughen penalties. Right now, a person arrested for being involved in the knockout game would be charged with a Class D felony and face a five-year sentence. However, they could get probation.
The proposed bill would make it mandatory to serve at least two years in prison and it would require 16- and 17-year-olds to be tried as adults.
Attorney Christina Rapillo, who is a public defender, said she feels it's up to judges to decide the appropriate punishment.
"It's unnecessary. Current Connecticut law already provides for punishment for people who engage in conduct like the knockout game," Rapillo said. "I am particularly opposed to the section of transferring juveniles to the adult court."
There are a number of victims of the knockout game in Connecticut. In New Haven, at least six people walking on city streets have been randomly attacked.
Dr. Inam Koreshi, a neurosurgeon, runs the head injury program at Hartford Hospital. He said the knockout game is more than just being knocked out. It can cause permanent brain damage.
"You could have memory loss, severe headaches, difficulty doing complex tasks like mathematics," Koreshi said. "Or if you work in an environment where you need to use memory a lot, you may have difficulty."
Nagle said his son was lucky and while he will have scars, it doesn't appear he has brain damage. Nagle added he thinks penalties for this senseless game should be severe.
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