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California senator calls for police to reinvestigate death of San Francisco gay man

Lily Wakefield February 6, 2022
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Jason Sales

Jason Sales's death in March, 2020, was ruled an accident. (Change.org)

California state senator Scott Wiener has called for police to reinvestigate the 2020 death of San Francisco gay man Jaxon Sales.

Sales, 20, died in a San Francisco apartment in March, 2020, and his death was ruled an accident. His cause of death was found to be an acute mixed drug intoxication, according to the Bay Area Rerporter, including the date rape drug GHB, cocaine and methamphetamine.

But his parents, Jim and Angie Sales, have been calling for a more thorough investigation by the San Francisco police department (SFPD) and San Francisco’s office of the chief medical examiner (SF OCME).

In a Change.org petition launched last month, signed by more than 40,000 people, they wrote: “Our 20-year-old son’s death deserves the same investigation given to any human being, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

The Sales’ continued: “On the night of 1 March 1, 2020, our amazing, beloved son Jaxon went to a high-rise apartment in an affluent area of San Francisco for a blind date.

“We texted him at 11pm to check if he was coming home that night. Jaxon said he would – and he always came home when he said he would.

“Jaxon never came home from that date. Every parent’s nightmare became our reality.”

They said that months after Jaxon’s death, they were informed by police that he had been “found naked and dead in the bed of a 41-year-old white male whom Jaxon did not know”.

The couple allege that the “assistant medical examiner justified the lack of investigation by saying only, ‘the gay community uses GHB'”.

They added: “We believe that if Jaxon was heterosexual, both the SFPD and the SF OCME would have fully investigated the circumstances of our son’s death… We’ve spent the last two years devastated, paralyzed, and grieving Jaxon’s death and repeatedly asking for answers to our unanswered questions.

“We want the truth to what happened to Jaxon that night and to understand why he never came home.”

In a letter to the SFPD and the medical examiner’s officer senator Weiner, who is also gay, has backed the family’s calls for further investigation.

Responding to Jim and Angie Sales’ claim that they were told “the gay community uses GHB”, Weiner said: “If this statement was indeed made, it is highly offensive, inappropriate, and dismissive of a drug overdose from a substance at times used as a date rape drug.

“Additionally, the San Francisco police department reportedly chose not to investigate this death based on the [office of the chief medical examiner’s] sole medical determination.”

The Sales family has also reported that when his uncle went to pick up Jaxon’s belongings from the OCME, he was told that another overdose had occurred in the same apartment around a week before his nephews death.

Weiner described it as “alarming” that this line of inquiry was not followed up, and while emphasising that he was not making assumptions about the circumstances surround Jaxon’s death, he added: “I am, however, asking you to ensure that a complete investigation occurs.”

In a previous statement to the Bay Area Reporter, SFPD public information officer Robert Rueca said: “This death investigation is led by the [office of the chief medical examiner] and they determine the cause of death (ie overdose, etc) for death investigations.

“We do not conduct a criminal investigation if there is no evidence of foul play, which we investigate at every scene of a death.

“If the OCME suspects foul play at any point in their investigation, our investigators would conduct a homicide investigation. For this death investigation officers did not find evidence of foul play during the initial investigation and the OCME did not find evidence of foul play.”

The OCME added: “The office of the chief medical examiner expresses our deepest condolences to the family of Jaxon Sales.

“The OCME conducted a thorough forensic investigation to certify the cause and manner of death in this case with the highest degree of competence, professionalism, compassion, and consistent with state law.

“A decedent’s sexual orientation, race, religion, or other factors do not influence our death investigations or conclusions.”

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