Owens investigation turns up video surveillance but no hate crime

Following an Iowa City Police Department (ICPD) investigation, the April 30 events that left one University of Iowa student with injuries — including broken teeth — were found not have been a hate crime and charges are not likely to be filed, according to a news release issued yesterday by the ICPD.

On May 2, ICPD received a report from Marcus Owens that he had been assaulted by three men. Owens, a freshman at the University of Iowa, was treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Timeline from City of Iowa City
Timeline via the City of Iowa City
Because Owens said three white men used a racial slur during their attack, the case was investigated as a hate crime and referred to the FBI. After a review of the investigation, the FBI said the incident did not meet criteria of a hate crime. Witnesses said one of the people involved had used the “N”-word.

“All evidence gathered supports that this was an isolated incident that stemmed from an ongoing disagreement,” the ICPD said.

After review of video surveillance and interviews with witnesses, the ICPD has a timeline of the events:

Owens reports that on April 30 at approximately 9 p.m. he arrived at Eden Lounge, 217 Iowa Avenue.

Owens further reports that on April 30 between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. he was assaulted by multiple white males in the alley way of the 200 block of Iowa Avenue while attempting to use his cell phone.

On May 2, the ICPD immediately began its investigation into the matter and was able to locate multiple witnesses as well as video surveillance footage for the times, dates and locations of the initial incident as it was reported by Owens.

Video surveillance footage shows Owens first entering Eden Lounge at 11:43 p.m. on April 30.

Video surveillance footage shows Owens as a participant in an altercation at Eden Lounge at 1:32 a.m. on May 1.

Video surveillance footage shows Owens exiting Eden Lounge at 1:34 a.m. on May 1 and then being involved with pushing and punching another person.

Video surveillance footage shows Owens being removed from the area of Eden Lounge by the bar staff at 1:35 a.m. on May 1.


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Video surveillance footage shows Owens attempting to re-enter the outside entry area of Eden Lounge before being stopped by bar staff at 1:36 a.m. on May 1.

Video surveillance footage shows Owens being involved in another altercation at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Linn Street at 1:41 a.m. on May 1.

On May 1 at 1:45 a.m., according to witnesses, Owens was involved in a third altercation whereupon he grabbed onto another subject and attempted to strike the individual.

Immediately after that altercation, a University of Iowa Police Officer arrived on-scene and, according to witnesses, Owens walked home with another person.

Video surveillance:

The city published a letter received from Owens and his family:

To Marcus Owens’s friends, the Iowa City Community, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa City Police Department:

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. Upon learning more details of the case, and while racial slurs served to fuel the violence, Marcus now knows that his account of events was inconsistent with police findings, in part due to alcohol being involved, his embarrassment at his behavior, as well as the injuries he sustained. In light of this, it was concluded that this incident was not a hate crime as originally believed, but rather a case of excessive underage drinking and extremely poor judgment on the part of many people, Marcus included. Again, we would like to apologize and thank the University (especially President Bruce Harreld and his staff) and the Iowa City Police Department for their attention, sensitivity, diligence in investigating this matter, and in thoroughly addressing our many concerns. 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.

— Marcus Owens and The Owens Family

The ICPD also said the investigation is nearing completion.

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