After a gay man was left for dead while traveling via Amtrak in California, his family is accusing the train company and police of conducting a "smear campaign" painting what they believe is a hate crime as an attempted suicide.
Pink News reported Wednesday that Aaron Salazar's family pointed out a number of inconsistencies with Amtrak's internal investigation of the incident that left the 22-year-old in a coma — and said they and police are promoting the failed suicide narrative to save the company from liability.
The company and police claim that Salazar deliberately fell from the moving train part of the way through his trip from Oregon to Colorado, but his family noted that he was found with burns on his legs inconsistent with falling from a moving train and that the pants he was found in were not damaged. The family also claims Amtrak never hired "medical experts" to examine Salazar.
"From the very start, they ruled this case an attempted suicide. Their investigators gave us misleading information, including telling us that they had a witness who saw Aaron jump out a window on the train," the family wrote in a statement. “When we fact-checked their claim and confronted the detective, he simply backpedaled his statement. Amtrak’s investigators only investigated the case as an attempt at suicide.
According to a crowdfunding campaign set up by his family, Salazar suffers from "multiple brain injuries, a broken pelvis, and severe burns on his thighs," a result of what they deem a homophobic attack. As of Wednesday, the young man is still in a coma, but is reportedly improving.