CHICAGO (CBSLA.com/AP) — Four black people are charged with hate crimes in connection with a video broadcast live on Facebook that shows a mentally disabled white man being beaten and taunted, threatened with a knife and forced to drink from a toilet.
Cook County prosecutors on Thursday announced charges against three 18-year-olds — Jordan Hill of Carpentersville, Brittany Covington of Chicago and Tesfaye Cooper of Chicago — and 24-year-old Tanishia Covington of Chicago.
Prosecutors say the four are also charged with kidnapping, and aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Three have also been charged with burglary.
In the 30-minute video, which apparently was posted live on Facebook on Tuesday, the victim is backed into a corner, his mouth duct-taped shut. Four black suspects are seen cutting the victim’s clothes, peppering him with cigarette ashes, and then cutting his hair with a knife until his scalp bled.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday morning they were investigating a second video, which surfaced on Twitter and appears to show the suspects grabbing the victim’s head, shoving it into a toilet, and forcing him to drink, according to CBS Chicago.
Earlier Thursday, Guglielmi said that the suspects made “terrible racist statements” during the assault but that police believe the victim was targeted because he has “special needs,” not because of his race.
Guglielmi says it’s possible the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim’s family.
Video from Chicago media outlets appears to show someone off-camera using profanities about “white people” and President-elect Donald Trump. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Wednesday that the victim has mental health challenges, and he called the video “sickening.”
Facebook has removed the video and defended the move 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.”
The video has since been re-uploaded to YouTube and other video-sharing websites.
Investigators have said the victim knew at least one of the suspects, according to CBS Chicago. Police said the victim’s parents had dropped him off at a McDonald’s and then the suspects brought the victim to Chicago in a stolen van, and tortured him for possibly up to 48 hours.
After the incident, the victim was treated at the hospital, and then went home with his parents in the northwest Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake.
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