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Alleged hate crime caught on camera in Salt Lake being screened for charges

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Posted - Feb 20th, 2019 @ 4:09pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake police have completed their investigation into an alleged hate crime involving a man who was allegedly hit by another man after he stated he was gay.

Police spokesman Greg Wilking said Wednesday that investigators have submitted their case to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office to be screened for possible charges, and have recommended misdemeanor counts of assault and brandishing a weapon.

But detectives did not make a determination of whether the case met the standard for a hate crime, Wilking said. He said it would be up to the district attorney to decide if any possible charges that are filed should also have a hate crime enhancement added to them.

An investigation was launched after an 8-second video was posted on social media Sunday and quickly went viral locally. The video showed a confrontation on a sidewalk near 341 S. Main between an unidentified man and Sal Trejo, the man recording the incident on his cellphone, about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

It starts with a man asking him, "Are you gay, though?"

"Oh, I am," Sal Trejo replies.

"Oh, then you're gay," the man repeats.

Just moments after saying that, the man is seen on the video throwing a punch at Trejo. The cellphone shakes as others who witnessed the incident can be heard saying, "Are you (expletive) kidding me?"

The unidentified man then "pulled out a knife and pointed it towards us while continuing" to make gay slurs, Trejo said in a statement posted on Facebook.

He said the man then got into a car, possibly a 2007 BMW X5, and sped away, driving on the TRAX lines on Main Street.

Prior to being punched, Trejo said he and his friends were leaving a downtown bar when "an intoxicated man" approached them making "homophobic and misogynistic comments," which ultimately lead to him being hit. Trejo was not seriously injured.

The incident sparked outrage on social media and the short video was extensively shared. Salt Lake police also retweeted the video clip Sunday night with the message, "We are asking anyone with information on this case to call 801-799-3000."

On Monday, after the video had been widely shared, the man contacted police and was said to be "cooperating fully," according to Salt Lake police.

However, Wilking said as of Wednesday investigators had not had a face-to-face conversation with the man. But because of witness statements and cellphone video, including both a longer version of the video Trejo recorded and video from additional witnesses, Wilking said detectives believe they have enough evidence to screen for formal charges.

Details about the man's identity or if he even lives in Utah were not released Wednesday.

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