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OLYMPIA — The Senate gave strong support for tougher penalties for assaults stemming from the so-called knockout game, despite a warning from some Democrats state laws already are adequate to handle what's may be a criminal "fad."
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, sponsored SB 6011 to make random attacks of unsuspecting victims a Class 3 felony. Such assaults in which assailants try to knockout someone, often elderly or a member of a racial or ethnic minority, with a single punch, are sometimes filmed and posted on the Internet.
"It is a phenomenon that has been going on nationwide," Padden said. "There is some indication it may have come to our state. What we're trying to do is get ahead of the curve."
One assault last November in the Spokane Valley is being investigated as a possible knockout game attack, although no charges have been filed in that case.
Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, argued a new law isn't needed because the state already has four different levels of assault on the books, and if the victim is targeted because they are members of a racial or ethnic minority, assailants can also be charged with a hate crime.
"There are fads in crime. Fads come and go, our law doesn't," Kline said.
The bill passed on a 38-9 vote and was sent the the House.