Second Suspect Involved In Brutal Beating of Black Iowa Man Receives Only a Year of Probation

A second white man has been sentenced to probation for his role in the brutal attack on a Black Iowa man that took place in May 2020. 

Jesse James Downs only received one year of probation after pleading guilty on Sept. 21 to a charge of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor, despite initially being charged with wilful injury causing serious injury, a felony.

The now 29-year-old was also ordered to 150 hours of community service at Urban Dreams, a nonprofit located in Des Moines that provides various services, including mental health counseling, substance abuse recovery classes and college preparation for underserved and underrepresented populations, according to the Des Moines Register. 

Dale Lee Millard (left )received three years probation while Jesse James Downs (right) one year for their involvement in the May 2020 attack on DarQuan Jones, a Black man in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Polk County Sheriff’s Department)

Downs and several other men, including Dale Lee Millard, jumped DarQuan Jones early Tuesday morning, on May 16, 2020, while he was at his girlfriend’s house near the 100 block of East Titus Avenue.

Jones was reportedly waiting for his girlfriend to open the door when confronted by three men whom he believed to be intoxicated at the time.

Witnesses nearby said they heard two men — Downs and Millard, the only two charged in the case — saying, “That [racial slur] tried to break into our house, so we beat him up.”

During the assault, Jones was reportedly choked, punched, and later dragged to a nearby creek where his head was held underwater. 

“The only thing that was in my head was, ‘They’re going to kill me,’” Jones told the news outlet last year he was thinking during the attack. “When they started dragging me to the creek, I thought it was over for me.”

Jones’ other injuries included a broken wrist and other lacerations that required 10 stitches. He was billed $10,000 for the medical treatment he underwent.

Millard received a total of three years probation in March 2021 for his part in the attacks in March after he entered an Alford plea to a count of willful injury. He was originally looking at a  maximum amount of five years in prison.

For his part, Downs already had been involved in a previous altercation that captured national attention. In June 2017 he was arrested on charges of assault causing injury and disorderly conduct for his role in a caught-on-video fight inside a Des Moines McDonald’s over a McChicken sandwich.

The sentencing did not appear to sit well with many people on social media, including a Twitter user who wrote, “There is clear and convincing evidence, to my thinking, that there is a long surviving element of the confederacy in this country, and that many, many police and members of the justice system are colluding with them.” 

Another person commented, “Apparently in IA you can try to kill a guy (if he’s black) and get probation.”

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