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White Illinois Bar Owner Arrested for Attack on Black Female College Student After Days of Protests, Public Pressure

An Illinois bar owner accused of attacking a Black college student and beating her unconscious was arrested Thursday following a 10-day investigation by local prosecutors.

Steven William Homan, 47, was booked into the Adams County Jail shortly after noon Thursday on an aggravated battery charged stemming from his April 4 encounter with 19-year-old Jazzpher “Jazz” Evans. According to the authorities, Homan bonded out of jail on $25,000 bond later in the afternoon. He’s expected to make his first court appearance May 4.

Main photo: Jazzpher “Jazz” Evans, 19, was beaten by a bar owner near her Quincy University campus on April 4. Inset photo: Steven William Homan, the 47-year-old bar owner, was arrested Thursday after being charged with aggravated battery. (Photos: Main/Saulter Law P.C.; Inset/Adams County Jail)

Evans and her family were unavailable for comment Thursday. But her Chicago-area attorney Keenan J. Saulter issued a statement through his law firm late Wednesday after Adams County State’s Attorney Gary L. Farha levied the class-three felony charge against Homan.

“Jazzpher Evans, her family and our firm understand the announcement of charges against Steven Homan is just a first step in obtaining the justice Jazzpher deserves as she makes a gallant effort towards a full recovery,” the statement read. “While the news of charges spark hope, we remain relentless in our pursuit that Steven Homan is held fully accountable for his wrongdoing and the trauma he inflicted on Jazzpher.”

Evans, Saulter and her family are expected to attend a rally 2 p.m. Saturday at Washington Park in Quincy to protest for justice in the teen’s case.

The charges against Homan stem from an altercation early the morning of April 4 at The Barn, his riverfront nightclub in Quincy, Illinois. The bar/restaurant is about two miles off the campus of Quincy University, where Evans is a freshman bio-chemistry major who plays on the school’s basketball team.

According to the criminal complaint that Farha filed in circuit court Wednesday, Homan insulted the teen, placed his arm around her neck and dragged her for about 20 seconds.

Evans alleges Homan’s “vicious attack” was motivated by race. She suffered a concussion, two black eyes and had cuts and bruises that scarred her face afterward.

Saulter described Homan as a hulking 6-foot-5, 250-pound man in an April 7 statement that indicated the bar owner choked Evans out and tossed her “lifeless body” outside the nightclub, essentially leaving her for dead.

It is still not clear what led to the altercation between Evans and Homan. The criminal complaint did not reveal those details or include a narrative of the events. Officials from both the Quincy Police Department and the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office said Thursday that the incident report will not be available until after the case is resolved.

According to Saulter’s statement, Evans and a white female classmate 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 nelson, choking her until she lost consciousness. He then dragged Evans out of the nightclub unconscious and tossed her on the ground.

Evans said she remained passed out for five minutes and when she came to she had facial wounds and a bloody nose. Yet Quincy police and paramedics never rendered aid to her, even after she told officers she’d just been attacked.

News of the brutal attack spread quickly and ignited days of anti-racism protests along with public pressure for investigators to press charges against Homan. The incident was the topic of discussion when hundreds of students, residents and community advocates attended an April 8 Quincy Human Rights Commission meeting held on the campus’ Pepsi Arena.

“To have it happen to somebody that I was so connected to, by this community menace, it really really provoked me to really step up and take action or whatever that looked like,” said Quincy student Chayim Cunningham, who is Evans’ resident adviser, WGEM reported

In a department-issued statement Wednesday, Quincy police announced the close of the criminal investigation and indicated they’ve launched a separate administrative investigation into any possible liquor license violations at The Barn. Police said that probe should be complete by Friday and will be sent to the Office of the City of Quincy Liquor Commissioner and Mayor Kyle Moore “for review and consideration of action against the establishment’s liquor license.”

On Thursday, police issued yet another statement responding to criticisms and explaining why it took 10 days for charges to be filed against Homan. Police explained that no formal complaint was filed until the afternoon following the incident and investigators questioned multiple people at the scene. But there wasn’t enough information at that time to advance the case.

“It was decided at that time that rather rush the issue it was prudent to conduct a proper investigation before making an arrest,” the statement read. It went on to add: “The path to justice is rarely short and easy. When circumstances allow, it is always best to conduct a proper and methodical investigation rather than rush to judgment.”

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