A Black female college student was viciously beaten by a white Quincy, Illinois, bar owner this month in what the victim’s attorneys described as a brutal “racially fueled” attack.
Chicago-area attorney Keenan J. Saulter is representing Jazzpher “Jazz” Evans, a 19-year-old freshman bio-chemistry major in her first semester at Quincy University.
Evans is a student-athlete at the private liberal arts college on Illinois’ western border, about 300 miles outside of Chicago. An all-state prep hoops star with dreams of becoming a geneticist, she was recruited to Quincy to play on the Hawks’ basketball team.
She was attacked during an incident that happened about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, April 4, at The Barn, a riverfront nightclub about two miles off campus. Steve William Homan, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound man who owns the bar/restaurant, choked Evans out and tossed her “lifeless body” outside with little regard for her well-being, a statement from Saulter’s law firm alleges.
Evans called it “one of the scariest moments of my life.” She suffered a concussion after the attack, which left her with two black eyes and cuts to her face. Now she and her family are calling for justice.
“This is unbelievable,” her father, Marvin Evans, told ABC 7. “Why is this guy not locked up right now? Why?”
There is no indication what set off the alleged altercation. But Jazzpher Evans believes the bar owner singled her out because she is Black.
“The girl I was with is a white girl and I’m obviously African-American,” she said. “We were doing the exact same thing, standing in the exact same spot, and he didn’t say a word to her. He literally had tunnel vision and came straight for me.”
Local police say they’ve yet to find any evidence that the incident was racially motivated, but they are looking into that claim.
No arrests have been made stemming from the incident. Robert Copley, chief of the Quincy Police Department, issued a statement this week, saying the department is working with the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office to investigate the altercation. He asked for any witnesses to come forward and talk to detectives, describing the case as a “complex investigation.”
“Officers are watching videos and interviewing multiple witnesses,” Copley’s statement read. “While we understand the demand for ‘quick justice,’ it is important the the investigation is thorough and proper.”
According to Saulter, Evans and a white female student were standing near a DJ booth requesting a song when Homan grabbed Evans and slammed her against a wall. He threw her to the ground and placed her in a full chokehold, choking her until she lost consciousness. He then dragged Evans out of the nightclub and tossed her to the ground and left her for dead, her attorneys say.
“He didn’t say anything to me. His first instinct was to shove me up against the wall, and that’s what he did, and he held me there. I put my hand up to defend myself, and that’s when he began screaming at me,” Evans said to NBC 5. “He told me to get the f–k out of the place and he started spitting in my face, and I put my hand up over my face and so I blocked it, and that’s when he grabbed my hand and he drove me to the ground.”
The teen said she passed out for five minutes, and when she came to Quincy police never rendered aid, even after she told them she’d just been attacked. Evans had facial wound and a bloody nose, but she says she never got medical attention at the scene.
“There was some police officers there, and I walked over to them, and they could visibly see the abrasions and the cuts on my face, and I told them this guy had just attacked me,” she told ABC. “They didn’t offer me any medical attention, they didn’t ask my name.”
Evans is still receiving treatment for her physical injuries. But Saulter worried about the emotional scars from what he characterized as a “life-threatening beating.”
He staged a press conference Thursday with Evans and her parents in her hometown of Joliet, Illinois. He is pushing for Homan to be charged with felony aggravated assault for what he described during the press conference as a “hate crime.”
“This man should be behind bars today, and we are going to do everything our power to hold him criminally and civilly responsible,” the attorney said.