Cops probe attack on gay man shown in shocking video as hate crime

Cops probe attack on gay man shown in shocking video as hate crime

February 19, 2019

Salt Lake City police said they are probing an assault on a gay man that was captured on video and posted to Facebook as a possible hate crime.

The victim, Sal Trejo, posted an 8-second clip of the 1:30 a.m. Sunday assault in the 300 block of South Main Street, where the unidentified suspect approached Trejo and his three friends and shouted “homophobic and misogynistic” slurs at the group, Trejo told the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Trejo, 29, told the paper he pulled out his phone to document the exchange because the man was “getting increasingly aggressive verbally.”

“Are you gay, though?” the man then asks Trejo, video shows.

“Oh, I am,” Trejo replies.

“Oh, then you’re gay,” the suspect says before winding up his right hand.

“Yeah but,” Trejo replies as the man hits him, sending his phone to the ground.

Trejo’s three friends are audibly startled by the unexpected blow and then “got in the guy’s face” after the incident, prompting the attacker to pull out a knife before he walked away and got into his car — which appeared to be a 2007 BMW X5, Trejo later posted on Twitter.

Trejo wasn’t seriously injured but said the attack has been “very difficult” to process emotionally.

“People need to know that this is happening,” Trejo told the newspaper. “People need to know that this was not OK. And that if you do this to somebody, you are going to be caught. You are going to be held accountable for your actions.”

Salt Lake City police Sgt. Brandon Shearer told The Post early Tuesday that the man seen in the video is scheduled to be interviewed later Tuesday by detectives after contacting police in connection with the video on Monday. It’s unclear if the man — who could face charges including aggravated assault — has hired an attorney, Shearer said.

Trejo said he’s received “an overwhelming outpouring of love and support from people all over” in the aftermath of the assault. The incident also prompted Utah’s only openly gay legislator, state Sen. Derek Kitchen (D-Salt Lake City), to call for hate crimes legislation to be passed in the Beehive State, which currently has no enforceable hate crimes statute, advocates say.

“As somebody who believes strongly in everybody’s equal rights, and as somebody who is very proudly gay — I never hide that part of me — it’s sad that it happened to me and my friends,” Trejo told the paper. “But I’m glad that it did in the sense that we can share our story and hopefully shed some light on this and get something happening to protect people.”

Reps from Equality Utah, which advocates for equal rights for LGBTQ residents in the state, said they were “deeply alarmed” by the footage.

“No one should be attacked simply because of who they are,” the group tweeted Monday. “We will work with Sal and law enforcement to ensure that justice prevails.”

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