An April fight involving a black University of Iowa freshman outside an off-campus bar was not a hate crime, authorities in Iowa City said on Tuesday, and the student has admitted his account of the incident was "inconsistent" with police findings.
The student, Marcus Owens, told police after the incident on the night of April 30 that he had been attacked by three white men who had used racial slurs, prompting an investigation by local police and the FBI into whether the altercation was a racially motivated hate crime, authorities said.
But police said in a statement that investigations showed that the incident instead was prompted by a disagreement between two students who belonged to different fraternities that escalated into an altercation. Police said Owens was a pledge member of one of the fraternities.
Police said no charges are expected.
Owens and his family issued a statement after authorities concluded the incident was not a hate crime.
"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," Owens and his family said.
"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," they added.
After the incident, Owens was treated for injuries at a university hospital.
Police watched video surveillance footage and interviewed witnesses who saw Owens involved in "several physical confrontations" that night, police said.
"According to witnesses, the 'n' word was used by one individual" during an altercation, the police statement said.
Evidence showed that the matter "was an isolated incident that stemmed from an ongoing disagreement," police said.
The statement from Owens and his family apologized to his friends, the university, the Iowa City community and police for the "misunderstandings and anxiety" from his involvement in the incident.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Will Dunham)