Beating of Iowa student from Naperville not a hate crime, officials say

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Police say video proves no hate crime was committed during a series of fights that spilled out of an Iowa City bar in April.

Earlier in May, University of Iowa Freshman Marcus Owens reported he was beaten by three white men yelling racial slurs in downtown Iowa City. Iowa City police investigated the incident that happened the night of April 30 as a hate crime.

On Tuesday Iowa City police released video and other evidence they say proves no hate crime took place. Police say the incident started as a fight at Eden Lounge and Nightclub on Iowa Ave in Iowa City. Owens was involved in that fight. Police say staff kicked Owens and others involved in the fight out of the bar.

Police showed surveillance camera video showing Owens involved in two more fights in downtown Iowa City. Iowa City police say during one of those fights, the “N”-word was used, but was not a motivating factor for any targeted attack on Owens.

Owens then walked home but later reported to a hospital for treatment of facial injuries. Two days later, Owens reported the assault to Iowa City police saying three men jumped him while yelling racial slurs at him.

Iowa City Police say after confronting the family with the video evidence, the family issued a statement apologizing for the incident and false report. Iowa City police declined to speculate what motivated Owens to make up the story.

“Marcus Owens and the entire Owens family would like to issue their deepest apologies to Marcus’s friends, the Iowa City community, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa City Police Department for the misunderstandings and anxiety stemming from Marcus’s involvement in a violent incident in downtown Iowa City on May 1,” the family’s letter said. “Just as we have learned many life-changing lessons, we hope too that the community will continue to examine the many issues raised by this unfortunate incident.”

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said Owens will not face charges for filing a false report, though she says the evidence would have supported charges. No one involved in the fights will be charged either, Lyness says that allows police to release the video evidence now and put the rumors and racial issues surrounding the incident to rest.

Iowa City police declined to provide a cost of the investigation saying a civil trial may be forthcoming.

Owens is from Naperville, Illinois.