Retired NYPD officer victim of violent ‘knockout challenge’ attack

The former cop was walking down a NYC street when he felt a “a hard shot” on the side of his head before the assailants fled


By Harry Parker, Thomas Tracy, and Leonard Greene
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The Knockout Game is nothing to play around with.

So says a retired police officer targeted by a group of alleged would-be knockout artists in Brooklyn who picked on the wrong guy.

Retired cop Harvey Kraft was punched in the back of the head by a group of young strangers during an unprovoked street attack in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, cops said Wednesday.

Kraft said he was convinced his attackers were playing the Knockout Game, a sadistic contest that rewards the “winner” for knocking out a random person with just one punch.

The marauders even have cell phone cameras at the ready to record the event, Kraft said.

Only, in this case, Kraft didn’t go down.

Officials said Kraft was walking walking along Brighton Beach Ave. toward Brighton 7th St. on his way to the library shortly before 1 p.m. on Tuesday when he was waylaid one of several men in their teens and early 20s.

“It was a hard shot,” Kraft, 66, told the Daily News. “I just absorbed it. They were still standing there. Cameras on. They were prepared to see me go down.”

Kraft’s cop instincts kicked in, and he gave chase. But Kraft wasn’t fast enough, and called 911 after about a block.

“I shared some choice words,” Kraft confessed. ”I ran after them.” But he wasn’t able to catch up.

Police recovered surveillance video of the suspects walking toward their victim and then running from the scene.

An EMS unit treated Kraft at the scene, but he declined to go to the hospital. After giving a statement at the precinct, he asked cops to drop him off at a coffee shop so he could finish his errands.

Kraft retired from the NYPD in 2002. He compared the impact of the punch to a time when a drunk driver hit his patrol car in the 1990s. He said the blow to his head packed the same punch as an airbag.

Kraft said he has lived in Brooklyn since 1963, and that he’d never been hit before until the attack.

“I thought there was some sort of accident,” he said. “I had my back to the street. I didn’t expect anything like that.”

Kraft said he was glad he survived the attack, and that it didn’t happen to someone more vulnerable.

“It’s no game,” Kraft said. “That does a disservice to anyone who’s attacked.... I was just minding my business, then ‘bam’. It shouldn’t be that way obviously. I’m glad it wasn’t someone more elderly, frail. It looks like it was planned.”

Kraft’s attackers were last seen running down Brighton 7th St. Cops are asking the public’s help identifying the suspects and tracking them down.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

There’s nothing new about “the Knockout Game” — a sadistic “game” of trying to knock a random person unconscious with one punch. Different versions of the so-called game have surfaced from time to time after it exploded on the scene in 2013.

Kraft said he wants his attackers brought to justice, and that young people should learn from them.

“It’s not the path I’d advise them to take,” Kraft said.. “Things have consequences.”

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