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No hate crime charges in Utah viral video assault

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Saying he doesn’t have a usable hate crime law, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill filed misdemeanor assault charges in the case of a man striking another after asking if he was gay.

Carlo Sammy Alazo, 22, of Tampa, Florida, was charged in 3rd District Court with threatening to use a dangerous weapon during a fight, a class A misdemeanor, and two counts of assault, a class B misdemeanor.

According to charging documents, Alazo was talking on his phone on Main Street near Exchange Place at about 1:45 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 17. A group near him, including Sal Trejo and friends, overheard parts of the conversation that were “derogatory and vulgar” and mentioned he was “standing by a gay guy.”

Trejo has told the media that Alazo appeared very intoxicated and was loudly speaking on the phone, calling those around him “faggots” and the women “fat pigs.” Charging documents say that Alazo mentioned the cut of coat Trejo was wearing, and Trejo interrupted Alazo to correct him.

That is when Trejo says Alazo grew even more belligerent, so Trejo pulled out his phone to record what was happening.

The viral video shows Alazo saying, “Are you gay though?” To which Trejo says he is. Alazo says “oh, then you’re gay,” and as Trejo answers, Alazo allegedly slaps at Trejo, knocking the phone from his hand.

Trejo and his group of friends followed after Alazo and charging documents say Alazo shoved one of the women in the group and pulled out a butterfly knife and pointed it towards Trejo, but dropped it. He picked up the knife and jumped into his car and fled.

Once the video was posted, it went viral, and Salt Lake City Police tweeted, asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect. Facebook commenters included a woman who said Alazo tried to “pick [her] up” who gave his phone number and his name as Carlo.

Police the next day tweeted that the suspect had contacted them and he was “cooperating fully with the investigation.”

Police investigated the charges and turned the case over to the District Attorney’s office.

Charging documents spell out three charges.

The first is Threatening with or Using Dangerous Weapon in a Fight or Quarrel, a Class A misdemeanor, saying Alazo did “draw or exhibit a dangerous weapon in an angry or threatening manner or unlawfully use a dangerous weapon in any fight or quarrel when such an act was not necessary for self defense or defense of another.”

The second and third are Assault, a Class B misdemeanor, for an “attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or commit an act, with unlawful force or violence, that caused bodily injury to another or created a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.”

The filed declaration of probable cause is based on the following:

“The statement of Salvador Trejo that on or about February 17, 2019, at approximately 341 South Main Street in Salt Lake County, the defendant, later identified as CARLO ALAZO, approached Trejo and Trejo’s friends while making “homophobic comments” and “racial comments” towards them. 

“Trejo began filming ALAZO with a cell phone. ALAZO then hit Trejo’s arm knocking Trejo’s phone out of his hand while he was still recording ALAZO. ALAZO then pulled out a small “butterfly-type” knife and pointed the knife blade in Trejo’s direction, but the knife slipped out of ALAZO’s hand.

“The statement of Kelly Moore that ALAZO approached her and her group of friends while ALAZO was talking on his cell phone. Moore heard ALAZO make a comment about standing next to a “faggot,” as well as a comment about the pattern of Trejo’s jacket. Trejo attempted to correct ALAZO’s description of Trejo’s coat pattern, which caused ALAZO to become more belligerent. ALAZO started calling Moore, Trejo and the others with them names, including calling Trejo a “faggot.” 

“Trejo and another one of their friends began recording with their cell phones and ALAZO “slapped the phone out of [Trejo’s] hand using an open palm,” hitting Trejo’s arm in the process. ALAZO then pushed Moore, and then pulled out a knife which he dropped.

“The statement of Sara Runnel that ALAZO approached her and her group of friends while ALAZO was talking on his cell phone. Runnel heard ALAZO make a comment about “standing by a gay guy.” Trejo reacted to the comment and ALAZO became more belligerent. ALAZO started calling Trejo and another male in their group “faggots” and ALAZO made derogatory and vulgar comments towards Runnel and Moore. At that point, ALAZO asked Trejoif he was gay and then hit Trejo. According to Runnel, it appeared that ALAZO was trying to hit Trejo but only hit Trejo’s cell phone. ALAZO then shoved Moore.”

Butterfly knives are illegal in many countries and states. They are, however, legal in Utah unless carried by someone with certain convictions. They are legal in Florida.

Utah’s hate crime law has never been successfully enforced since its passage. A hate crime bill is currently moving though the legislative session, which ends March 14.

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