It tells the story of Nicholas Chow Johnson and how a fateful encounter with gang members on the night of October 20, 2001 not only knocked him off his feet, but caused such severe brain damage that he’s confined to live the rest of his days in a long term care facility.

Most of us will never experience a moment that will forever shatter our life's direction, but for Nicholas Chow Johnson, that moment occurred shortly after 3:00 am on Saturday, October 20, 2001, when a voice in the dark yelled, "Take off the red"!

It's doubtful that Nick heard or understood the real meaning of those words. He had been drinking and was staggering down Lampson Street (Esquimalt, B.C.) when a group of young punks cornered him. He tried to get away, when a sixteen-year-old boy gave Nick a shove.

Nick's Punishment

A punch provoked by a simple red jacket. As Nick continued walking, Harry Hiscock (then 19) ran up behind him.

Harry’s fist was wrapped in a blue bandana, symbolic of the Crips gang.

He blindsided Nick with a vicious punch to the head. Nick dropped like a stone, slamming his head on the roadway.

A 16-year-old member of the gang then delivered at least one finishing kick to Nick's head, as he lay unconscious on the road.

Realizing Nick was badly hurt, the teens quickly fled, but Esquimalt police soon caught up with the two minors and Harry.

Taken to a Victoria hospital, neurosurgeons soon concluded that Nick's brain was severely injured - most likely from the initial punch delivered to the left side of his head - a punch provoked by a simple red jacket. It was the wrong colour in the wrong neighbourhood.

The Wrong Colour

Red Jacket 2

Harry and the two minors, drunk themselves that morning, targeted Nick because he dared to walk the streets of Esquimalt, - in Crips territory - wearing a red jacket, the colour of their rival gang, the Bloods.

But Nick was no gang member. He was a young 19-year-old man on his way to visit his girlfriend, wearing a casual red jacket he bought with the money his mother had sent him weeks earlier.

The Brutal Results

Nick is blind in his right eye, can't talk, and the right side of his body is paralyzed.

He can't care for himself and must rely on others to feed him, wash him, and move him.

Medium Security

Harry served the remainder of his eight-year sentence at a medium security prison in B.C. In 2005, he was denied day parole. He reapplied in September 2007 and it was granted. On December 17, 2010, Harry’s sentence was completed.

A Disturbing History

Harry's High School Photo

October 20, 2001 wasn't the first time Harry was in trouble with the law.

At age 13, Hiscock had long-standing problems with his attitude and behaviour at home, at school, and in the community. A 1995 psychiatric assessment described Harry as impulsive, angry, lacking responsibility and lacking empathy. It was predicted that if he did not receive anger management he would likely re-offend and pose a risk to seriously harm others.

As for the two minors, they were handed two-year sentences in 2002.

Court Rulings

BC Supreme Court
Nov. 27, 2002 - Expert Gang Evidence

BC Court of Appeal
Dec. 2, 2002

BC Supreme Court
Dec. 18, 2002 - Oral Reasons for Sentencing


This 23-minute documentary premiered at the 2009 Victoria Film Festival where it was well received by the audience and media.


The Red Jacket is in the collection of the following organizations:

Calgary Public Library
Saskatoon Public Library
Upper Grand District School Board
Public Safety Canada (Ottawa)
Manitoba Education
Books and Company (Prince George)
Esquimalt High School

Contact Moving Images Distribution to order a copy. Click
here for more information.


Sept. 6, 2007 - Day parole for man convicted in vicious beating of Nicholas Chow Johnson CanWest Publications.

Feb 18, 2009 –
Man endures 'life sentence' of paralysis. Inside Toronto. Toronto, ON.

Feb 6, 2009 -
Brutal Esquimalt beating documented in film. Times Colonist. Victoria, BC

External Links