Iowa City Police Say UI Student Not a Hate Crime Victim

May 17, 2016

Iowa City police say video evidence and eye witness accounts don’t support a racial hate crime against University of Iowa student Marcus Owens.

Police and Johnson County attorney Janet Lyness presented their conclusions at a press conference this morning.

Iowa City Police Captain Troy Kelsay told reporters and some city council members investigation findings don’t support Owens’ initial statements.

“Marcus was not the victim of an assault. Marcus was an active participant and even an instigator in three separate physical confrontations or assaults that occurred at bar close,” he says.

Police say Owens had reported that on Saturday, April 30, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., he was approached by an individual in an alleyway and subsequently struck multiple times. Owens further reported that he was struck several more times by multiple people while being called racial slurs.

Kelsey says the “N” word was used by persons involved in the street fights, but investigators are concluding other factors—including alcohol—are primary factors.

“Part of his treatment was a blood draw. This was approximately three hours later. At was at approximately four-thirty. This was approximately three hours later and his blood alcohol concentration at that time was a point-one-one-six.”

Owens’ parents, in a written apology statement, agree that the blame lies with excessive underage drinking and extremely poor judgement by many people, Marcus included.

Johnson County attorney Janet Lyness says the community is the victim. 

“Hopefully, going forward, people will understand you shouldn’t falsely report these kinds of things," she says. "But also if you do we’re going to get to the truth of what’s going on. And, hopefully, everybody’s going to feel safer in the community knowing this was one incident in which one person told something that was not true that led to this whole thing. That there was not active, somebody was being attacked by three people for racist things out of the blue…that just didn’t happen.”

Lyness says Owens won’t be charged with making a false report.