CHICAGO (AP) — Four black people were
charged with hate crimes Thursday in connection with a video
broadcast live on Facebook that showed a mentally disabled white man
being beaten and taunted, threatened with a knife and forced to drink
from a toilet.
The assault went on for up to two days,
until Chicago police found the victim "in distress" walking
along a street, authorities said.
The suspects, who are in custody, can
be heard on the video using profanities against white people and
President-elect Donald Trump.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said
authorities initially believed the man was singled out because he has
"special needs," not because he was white, although
Guglielmi acknowledged the suspects made "terrible racist
It's also possible that the suspects
were trying to extort something from the victim's family, Guglielmi
In addition to hate crimes, the four
are charged with kidnapping, aggravated battery and aggravated
unlawful restraint. Three were charged with burglary.
The victim was a classmate of one of
the attackers and initially went with that person voluntarily, police
"He's traumatized by the incident,
and it's very tough to communicate with him at this point,"
police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said.
Excerpts of the video posted by Chicago
media outlets show the victim with his mouth taped shut slumped in a
corner as at least two assailants cut off his sweatshirt and others
taunt him off camera. The video shows a wound on the top of the man's
head, and one person pushes the man's head with his or her foot. A
red band also appears to be around the victim's hands.
Off-camera, people can be heard using
the profanities. At least one woman is shown in the video.
During the video, the victim does not
appear to make any attempt to defend himself or to escape his
He is a suburban Chicago resident
described by Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson as having "mental
Johnson described the video as
"It makes you wonder what would
make individuals treat somebody like that," he said Wednesday at
a news conference.
The grandmother of a young woman
associated with the video said the granddaughter she raised from
infancy is "not this person."
"I'm so upset, my head is about to
bust open," said Priscilla Covington of Chicago. "I don't
know if someone influenced her ... She had her ups and down. (She)
was a good person. I'm so confused."
In Washington, White House press
secretary Josh Earnest said the beating demonstrated "a level of
depravity that is an outrage to a lot of Americans."
He said he had not yet spoken to
President Barack Obama about the incident in the president's
The investigation began Monday after
officers found a man "in distress" and "in crisis"
walking on a street on the West Side, Capt. Steven Sasso said.
The man was taken to a hospital, and it
was later discovered that he had been reported missing from an
At about the same time, police took
several people into custody at a nearby address where they found
signs of a struggle and property damage. Investigators determined
that the missing man had been at the same address.
Cook County prosecutors identified the
suspects as Jordan Hill of suburban Carpentersville, Brittany
Covington of Chicago and Tesfaye Cooper of Chicago, all 18. A fourth
suspect was identified as 24-year-old Tanishia Covington, also of
The video emerged at a time when police
dealings with Chicago's black community are being closely watched.
Less than a year ago, the nation's third-largest police force was
sharply criticized by a task force for using excessive force and
honoring a code of silence.
The department has also been the
subject of a long civil-rights investigation by the Justice
Department, which is expected to report its findings soon.