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Man accused of attacking gay couple says he was the one attacked

Paul Martinson, the man arrested for the hate crime against two gay men in downtown Portland last week, has responded to the allegations against him.

Paul Martinson

Martinson, 39, was charged with assaulting and intimidating Kiah Lawson, 22, and his boyfriend Sam Smith, 21, near Silverado the night of March 14. Martinson was also charged with vandalizing Smith’s car. But Martinson said he did not attack the couple, and in fact, he said, they attacked him.

Some of Martinson’s story is unclear because, he said, he was drunk that night. He had just left a bar – he doesn’t remember which one – with a group of people he had just met. He was heading to Mary’s Club when the fight happened. He said he saw Lawson and Smith on the street and greeted them. That’s when one of them – he cannot say whether it was Lawson or Smith – started punching him, he said.

“I was walking and I said ‘Hola, cómo está amigos?’ because that’s how I greet people,” Martinson said. “And this guy goes ‘Hey, faggot!’ and I said ‘I’m not a faggot; you’re the one who’s gay.”

The man then punched Martinson about seven to nine times, swinging his arms in a windmill motion, Martinson said. Martinson said he “never punched this guy once.”

Martinson said he fell to the ground, where he grabbed the man’s foot, knocking the man down. Then Martinson ran away, he said.

Martinson said he doesn’t remember what happened next. He said he doesn’t remember vandalizing Smith’s car. He said he doesn’t remember another man with a knife being with him, as Lawson and Smith described. In fact, Martinson said he had only met the people who were walking with him that night and they all fled the scene when the fight began.

After the fight, Martinson said he remembers “about 30 people” coming from Silverado and running toward him. That’s why he ran to Waterfront Park, where he was caught and arrested, he said.

He said he told his version of the story to police, but the police did not include it in the police report.

When asked what could be the motivation for the attack against him, Martinson said, “I think that because I talked to them in Spanish, it enraged them. Perhaps they don’t like being talked to in Spanish.”

“The one thing I know for certain is I didn’t hit this guy. I didn’t start it, and he did attack me,” he said.

Martinson is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing March 30.

“When the truth comes out, the guy that attacked me is going to get charged with a felony assault and a hate crime,” he said, “because hate goes both ways.”

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