Last month, 25-year-old Ashley Depew, accused a random Black “thug” of assaulting her in a “Knockout Game” attack, but her entire story has been exposed as a lie, reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Depew was really hit by her boyfriend, Justin Simms, 25, and they fabricated the entire story to avoid telling their families.
As originally reported by KMOV St. Louis, Depew claimed that she was randomly sucker punched while waiting for a friend outside of a local bar.
“I dropped immediately to the ground and screaming and crying and everybody just scattered,” she said at the time to News 4’s Matt Sczesny.
Depew’s family thought the attack sounded like the “Knockout Game” that seemed to be going around—before it was determined to be a racist, sensationalized story—and they insisted on going to the police. Police Chief Sam Dotson, however, said their story was always inconsistent:
“We had to spend a significant amount of resources unraveling the lies they told,” Dotson told the Dispatch. “That’s resources that could have been spent on other crimes, and it damaged the perception of the city. I hope these two individuals get help in their relationship.”
Depew and Simms have both been charged with falsifying a police report.
Blaming a phantom Black criminal for the crimes of White America is nothing new.
Slate compiled several instances below:
In 1989, Charles Stuart murdered his pregnant wife and blamed it on anonymous black men, stoking racial tension in the Boston area just as the “knockout game” is doing now. In 1994, Susan Smith murdered her sons and trotted out the same lie to the police and the media. In other cases, people make up imaginary attacks by black men for money, attention, or, as University of Florida law professor Katheryn Russell-Brown told NPR, even just to get time off of work. In one particularly surreal case in 2008, a young female John McCain supporter claimed a black man randomly carved the letter “B” into her face as a kind of Obama campaign sign. Turns out she did it to herself, which helped explain why the letter was backwards. And while not a hoax, it was the late-’80s hysteria over “wilding” that created an atmosphere in which five young men were wrongly convicted in the Central Park jogger rape case.
Simms claims that he “accidentally” hit Depew when she tried to touch his hand during an argument. He was allegedly just trying to move his hand, but Depew suffered two facial fractures and required reconstructive surgery.
“I don’t want this to detract from the fact that [Depew’s] still a victim,” said her attorney Ethan Corlija. “She sustained pretty serious injuries. No matter how the circuit attorney chooses to view it, it still boils down to her being a victim and we can’t lose sight of that fact.”