Cesar Nejara — just a tad over 5-feet tall and weighing 125 pounds — was just minding his own business at a street corner in Paterson, New Jersey, in December when the video camera started rolling.
A larger male was seen walking up to Nejara and exchanging a few words with the quiet street cleaner. And because he doesn’t speak English, Nejara had no idea what was about to happen.
“Knock him out! Knock him out!” a voice yelled off camera.
“Knock him out?” the smiling thug replied. Then he delivered a right fist to Nejara’s face, knocking the 37-year-old unconscious as the hooting and hollering intensified.
“I couldn’t speak for a week, I couldn’t even speak to my family,” Nejara told WABC-TV through a translator. “That’s what hurt the most.”
After the latest installment of the vicious Knockout Game — in which victims are videotaped being punched in the face on the street — Nejara couldn’t eat solid food and had to drink soup through a straw for eight days, the station reported. He also lost a tooth, required stitches and still has pain in the back of his head and his mouth.
“I didn’t feel anything, because the impact was so hard I just fell on the floor,” he told WABC of the attack. “I don’t like to pick on anybody, or pick fights. Now I live in fear.”
What’s more, $300 cash he was carrying disappeared after he was flattened on the street, the station said — bad news made worse given Nejara sends money to his five kids and wife in Guatemala and now has medical bills to pay on top of everything else.
One sliver of good news is that after video of Nejara’s knockout went viral earlier this month, 18-year-old Kristian Gonzalez surrendered to Paterson police for throwing the punch, WABC said.
But while Gonzalez was charged with aggravated assault and endangering an injured person, the station said he’s being charged as a juvenile because he was 17 at the time of the attack. And Gonzalez’s attorney said his client’s ADHD could have been a factor.
Nejara told WABC he’s a religious man but doesn’t forgive his attackers.
“Those teenagers, they have a different set of mind. I’m just human. If I was to hit anybody, it would hurt me as much as it hurt them,” Nejara told WABC. “To them just a game, but to me it’s real life.”