Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Three Years for 'Knockout' Punch

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Three Years for 'Knockout' Punch

Article excerpt

A Paterson teen was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for randomly punching and knocking out a man on a street corner last year -- an assault that was recorded on a cellphone video that went viral after being posted on social media.

"I would like to say I am sorry to the victim," Kristian Gonzalez, 18, said at his sentencing in state Superior Court in Paterson.

The victim, Cesar Nejara, said the punch left him with several stitches and that he was unable to eat for a week because of injuries to his mouth.

Speaking through a Spanish interpreter, he said he didn't tell his wife the truth about how he got the injury, telling her instead that he hit himself against a piece of furniture.

Nejara has said he was on his way to a bodega to send money to his family when two teenagers approached him. He said the teens were speaking to him in English and that he didn't understand what they were saying.

Then one of them -- later identified as Gonzalez -- punched him hard in the face without any provocation, knocking him out cold, he said. Nejara said he woke up bloodied a little while later and that bystanders took him to the hospital.

The video posted on social media shows Gonzalez walking up to Nejara, who seemed to be waiting to cross the street on the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Van Houten Street. Gonzalez then turns to the camera and makes a gesture while a male voice off screen is heard saying, "Knock him out! Knock him out!"

Gonzalez then punched Nejara, who fell to the ground and remained motionless as Gonzalez walks away and the male voice bursts into laughter. …

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