Ohio Man Convicted of Hate Crime in Attack Outside Cincinnati Restaurant
Izmir Koch, 33, of Huber Heights, Ohio, was convicted in U.S. District Court today for assaulting a man because he believed the man was Jewish in violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and of lying to the FBI about his role in the religiously motivated assault.
Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Herb Stapleton, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Cincinnati Division, announced the verdict, which was reached today by U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott after a bench trial that occurred between Nov. 13 to 15.
According to court documents and testimony, the assault occurred on Feb. 4, 2017, outside a Cincinnati restaurant, when Koch yelled out asking if anyone outside the restaurant was Jewish. The victim responded that he was Jewish and Koch then ran to the victim and punched him in the head. When the victim fell to the ground, Koch and others continued hitting and kicking him, breaking a bone in his face and bruising his ribs. A half-dozen of Koch’s friends joined in the assault. Before and during the assault, the defendant was heard shouting, “I want to kill all of the Jews” and “I want to stab the Jews.” The victim was not in fact Jewish.
After the incident occurred, Koch made a voluntary statement to the FBI, accompanied by his attorney. Koch falsely told the FBI he was not involved in the fight and he had not said anything disparaging about Jews.
“All people should be able to live their lives freely and without fear of violence or aggressive acts of intimidation,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting anyone who harms someone because of their actual or perceived religion and lies to law enforcement to cover up the crime.”
“This is the first conviction under the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the Southern District of Ohio,” said U.S. Attorney Glassman. “We will not permit hate-fueled violence to gain a toehold here. Nor will we countenance lying to FBI agents. Today’s convictions reflect our resolve.”
In October, the Justice Department launched a new comprehensive hate crimes website designed to provide a centralized portal for the Department’s hate crimes resources for law enforcement, media, researchers, victims, advocacy groups, and other related organizations and individuals. More information on the website and an update on Justice Department hate crimes prosecutions can be found here.
This case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Gaffney and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.