DES MOINES, Iowa – A white man convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct in 2020 for the brutal beating of a Black man was sentenced to probation on Wednesday.
Jesse James Down, 29, was arrested along with his accomplice Dale Lee Millard in June 2020 for his role in a brutal attack that left 23-year-old DarQuan Jones severely injured.
According to Jones, on May 16, 2020, he was on his way to his girlfriend’s house around 3:25 a.m. when he was attacked by the men who thought he was trying to break into a nearby home. He said the suspects, whom he didn’t know, yelled racial slurs throughout the assault.
Jones said he was choked, punched, and dragged to a creek where his head was held underwater.
“When they started dragging me to the creek, I thought it was over for me,” Jones said told the Desmoines Register days after the assault. “The only thing that was in my head was, ‘They’re going to kill me.'”
Jones said the attack only ended after two women who heard his screams intervened.
The attack left Jones with multiple facial fractures, a broken wrist, and a large gash on his face and other injuries. He said his medical bills topped $10,000.
Witnesses in the area said they heard the two males yelling, “That (racial slurs) tried to break into our house, so we beat him up,” according to a criminal complaint.
Downs was initially charged with willful injury causing serious injury, a felony. In September he pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to complete 150 hours of community service at Urban Dreams, a Des Moines nonprofit that provides a wide variety of services, including mental health counseling, substance abuse recovery classes and college preparation for underserved and underrepresented populations.
Down’s accomplice, 29-year-old Dale Lee Millard, was sentenced to three years of probation in March after he entered an Alford plea to a count of willful injury.
The NAACP of Des Moines said the day after the assault that the attack should be considered a hate crime.
“After speaking with Quan, his family, and the witnesses that have come forward, if the story is as they state it is, then what occurred yesterday should be nothing less than a hate crime,” Kameron Middlebrooks, president of the Des Moines NAACP said at the time.
Des Moines police said investigators initially believed race played a role in the attack, but that there was no evidence to establish race as the primary motive, which is a requirement to file a hate crime charge in Iowa.