Prosecutors say a curbside assault on a gay man late last month in Hudson represents a hate crime.
The March 31 incident left the man with a black eye and other minor injuries after he was allegedly pushed to the ground and punched. The suspect, Hudson resident Christopher J. Salmon, was charged with battery involving a hate crime, a felony. The 37-year-old was released from St. Croix County jail on a signature bond after his initial hearing April 2.
St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes said a hate crime charge is "a relatively rare thing" and only occurs when the alleged victim falls into a protected class of citizens. The enhanced charge levies more time behind bars and fines, if convicted.
According to a criminal complaint:
The victim, a 21-year-old man, reported being assaulted earlier in the day while he was outside a Second Street bar smoking with friends.
He told police a group of men walked past, one of whom told the victim's female friend she was attractive. The victim turned to the men and said, "What about me?" One of the men then turned and pushed him to the ground.
The man told police the shove was forceful enough to knock down a woman he was standing near. The suspect then punched the victim at least twice in the face. The man told police he tried getting back up before being rushed by the suspect and pushed to the ground again.
When the victim woke up the next morning, he spoke with friends who had been out with him. The friends told him they'd identified the suspect through Facebook as "CJ Salmon."
The victim "stated that he was positive that this was the individual who had assaulted him," the complaint states, which goes on to note that he believed the assault occurred because he is gay.
Police interviewed two of the victim's friends, who gave the same version of events and believed the assault happened because the victim had implied he is gay.
Officers went to Salmon's apartment. He didn't answer the door, but a neighbor did. She told police she had told Salmon's his ex-girlfriend the police were there.
The ex-girlfriend arrived and told police she learned Salmon had gotten into a fight the previous night. She let police into the unit, where Salmon was getting out of the shower.
Police questioned Salmon, who said he had blacked out after doing shots at a Second Street bar and had no recollection from the rest of the night. Officers then told him why they were there.
"Upon listening to what I had to say, it did not help Christopher with his recollection of last night's events at all," the officer wrote in the complaint.
Salmon was then arrested. He is also charged with disorderly conduct involving a hate crime, a misdemeanor.
He returns to court Monday, April 16.