Four people are facing hate crime and felony charges, including kidnapping, after a “disturbing” and “brutal” video showing a man with “mental health challenges” being tied up, beaten and tortured was streamed live on Facebook “for the entire world to see,” Chicago Police say.
In the video, one of the attackers can be heard yelling, “f*ck Donald Trump n*gger, f*ck white people, boy,” and several other derogatory comments about the president-elect are made throughout the nearly 30-minutes of footage.
You can watch the video below:
Hill is from Carpentersville, Illinois, while Cooper and the Covingtons, who are sisters, are form Chicago. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said they are charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary. They are all also charged with hate crime, a charge police hesitated on committing to Wednesday night.
The most serious charge, aggravated kidnapping, carries a potential prison sentence of 30 years, with a minimum sentence of six years.
The four suspects remain in custody and are expected to appear in court Friday.
Police told WFLD-TV they became aware of the video Wednesday afternoon and the incident occurred Tuesday.
While the four suspects are charged with a hate crime, Chicago Police said Thursday they do not believe the victim was targeted because of his race, but that race did play a role in the attack.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Associated Press the attackers made some “terrible racist statements,’ but said investigators believe the victim was targeted because he “has special needs,” not because he’s white.
At a press conference later Thursday, police said the hate crime charge stems from both the racial comments made in the video and the diminished mental capacity of the victim.
Police told WBBM-TV the victim was a high-risk missing person from northwest suburban Crystal Lake.
A second video, which you can watch below, shows the group taunting the victim and forcing him to drink from a toilet:
Several other videos were from the incident were posted on social media. In one, the victim is forced at knifepoint to say “f*ck Donald Trump.”
The victim, who is seen in the first video being kicked and punched and cut on his scalp, was hospitalized to be treated for his injuries, police said. He was recovering on Wednesday. The names of those in custody have not been released.
The 18-year-old man had last been seen by his parents on December 31, and they told police they received texts from his captors while he was with them, WLS-TV reports. His parents live in Streamwood, Illinois, a suburb in Cook County, and police there are also investigating the case.
Police said the victim met his friend from high school, Jordan Hill, at a suburban McDonald’s on December 31, and they ended up in a stolen van, which was driven to the West Side of Chicago, where the attack took place in a home in the 3400 block of Lexington Avenue.
According to police, Hill stole the van without the victim knowing. They went to visit Hill’s friends in Chicago, and ended up at an apartment where the Covingtons live, police said.
While there, the victim told police he got into a “play fight” and it escalated, eventually leading to the slurs and racial attacks.
The victim was able to escape when the Covingtons’ downstairs neighbor called police to report the noise in their apartment. He was found wandering in the street by patrol Officer Michael Donnelly.
Police believe the victim was tied up for about four or five hours.
The 30-minute video was originally posted on Facebook Live by Brittany Herring, but has been deleted. It has since been re-uploaded on Youtube and elsewhere.
The department issued a statement on Twitter calling the video “disturbing” on Wednesday:
While on patrol Officers observed a disoriented male walking 3400 W. Lexington on January 3, 2017 who was then transported to an area hospital for treatment. At 5:26 p.m. officers then responded to a battery at a residence on the 3300 block of W. Lexington where they discovered signs of a struggle and damage to the property and (were) able to link this evidence to the disoriented male. Officers later became aware of a social media video depicting a batter of an adult male which is believed to be the same individual. At this point CPD believes the video is credible and detectives are questioning persons of interest in the case. The victim, whom CPD believes is from a neighboring suburb, was transported to an area hospital in stable condition. The investigation is ongoing.
Police announced the charges at a press conference on Thursday:
Police also held a press conference Wednesday night to address the incident. You can watch that below:
“I’ve said time and time again that if you commit an act of violence in the city of Chicago, you will feel the full weight of the Chicago Police Department,” Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at the press conference. “And tonight, four individuals have experienced the consequences of their actions.”
Captain Steven Sesso, the commanding officer of the 11th District, said “alert 11th District officers encountered” the victim and it “didn’t feel right, the situation. They saw clearly this individual was in distress, that he was in crisis. And they cared enough to do something about it.”
Commander Kevin Duffin, who leads the detectives investigating the incident said the victim is “traumatized by the incident” and it is hard for detectives to communicate with him.
“Kids make stupid mistakes, I shouldn’t call them kids, they are legally adults, but they are young adults and the make stupid decisions,” Duffin said of the vulgar remarks about Trump and white people. “That certainly will be part of whether or not we seek a hate crime, determine whether or not this is sincere or stupid ranting and raving.”
“It’s sickening,” Johnson said of the video. “It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that. I’ve been a cop for 28 years and I’ve seen things you shouldn’t see in a lifetime, but it still amazes me how you still things you just shouldn’t. I’m not going to say it shocked me, but it was sickening.”
Johnson said the incident doesn’t appear to be politically motivated.
“I think part of it is just stupidity,” Johnson said. “People ranting about something they think might make a headline.”
Johnson said he can’t connect what happened in the video to Trump talking and tweeting about violence in Chicago.
“If you looked at the video, it was just stupidity,” Johnson said.
Police have not said if they have a motive for the attack. Guglielmi said it is possible the suspects were trying to extort something from the family of the victim.
The Illinois hate crime law, a class 4 felony punishable by up to 2.5 years in prison, can be read below:
A person commits hate crime when, by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, regardless of the existence of any other motivating factor or factors, he commits assault, battery, aggravated assault, misdemeanor theft, criminal trespass to residence, misdemeanor criminal damage to property, criminal trespass to vehicle, criminal trespass to real property, mob action, disorderly conduct, harassment by telephone, or harassment through electronic communications
The video begins with the group of apparent captors yelling at the tied up man. They cut the sleeves of his sweatshirt as one says they’re going to make him “butt ass naked.”
The woman filming the video then appears to realize she’s on Facebook Live, but continues recording as she smokes. The video also includes numerous references to drinking and getting drunk.
The group makes several references to Donald Trump at the beginning of the video, yelling his name and cursing him.
The video was quickly spread around on social media, and #BLMKidnapping was trending on Twitter by Wednesday night.
In mid-November, four people were arrested after a man was attacked and robbed in Chicago while bystanders yelled “don’t vote for Trump,” DNAInfo reported. That attack was also caught on video:
The 50-year-old victim later said he voted for Trump, but did not have a bumper stick on his car or anything else to identify him as a Trump voter, according to DNAInfo.
Johnson said he didn’t know of any other incidents involving assaults targeting Trump supporters in the city.
Facebook said it deleted the original video from the social media site.
“We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason,” the company said in a statement to The Guardian. “In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed.”
It is also not the first time a disturbing Facebook Live video has made the news in Chicago. In two separate occasions, men were shot while streaming live video on Facebook. One man was killed and the other was seriously wounded.
Read more about this breaking news in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: