CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — A Missouri man seen on video sucker-punching a 12-year-old boy in the back of the head who was dancing on a sidewalk in what police called a “violent and completely unprovoked attack” turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday.
Cedric Charles Moore Jr., 27, was charged with second-degree felony assault and first-degree child endangerment, Cape Girardeau police said.
"The public has understandably expressed a desire to see Moore charged with a hate crime for this heinous crime," police said on social media. "In accordance with state statutes, this charge would only apply if the assault was categorized to a lesser degree, which would not be in the best interest of seeking true justice for the victim."
Widely viewed video of the incident shows Ethan Hagler, 12, and two other members of a hip-hop dance troupe on a sidewalk near downtown around 11:40 p.m. Friday. Hagler dances while a song by Gucci Mane, featuring Drake, is heard in the background. Hagler’s teacher, Michael Curry, was recording the performance and streaming it online, The New York Times reported.
As Hagler dances, a dark-colored SUV pulls up, and a man police identified as Moore gets out. He playfully walks over, rhythmically moving his arms before inexplicably punching Hagler in the back of the head, sending the boy to the ground. Moore runs back to the vehicle, which quickly leaves the scene. Curry, 25, briefly runs after them before returning to attend to Hagler.
“It was horrible,” Curry told The Associated Press. “I was stunned.”
Hagler was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released. His mother, Stephanie N. Hagler, said her son suffered a concussion from the violent strike.
“I wish that I knew what provoked (Moore) that day,‘' Hagler told the Times. “What provoked this man that day to lash out at a child?”
A fundraiser to help pay for Hagler's medical costs has raised more than $16,000.
Stephanie Hagler said her son has traveled for dance competitions and is always shown support and praise for his performances.
“My son has no intention of ending his dance career. This is what he wants to do with his life,” she said.
Cox Media Group