4 charged with hate crimes, kidnapping after teen streams abuse of special needs man on Facebook

CNN - Four suspects from the Chicago area have been charged in connection with the attack on a special-needs teen that was streamed on Facebook Live.

Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper; 18; Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24, have each been charged with a hate crime, felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Hill, Cooper and Brittany Covington also face charges of residential burglary. Hill also faces charges of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Video of the torture has stunned the country, not just but because of the graphic abuse, but because of the comments made by some of the assailants.

"*F*ck Donald Trump!" one attacker shouted in the video. "F*ck white people!"

But prosecutors have not specified why the four are charged with hate crimes. In Illinois, hate crimes can be filed for a variety of reasons, including racially motivated attacks and attacks based on a victim's physical or mental disability.

Video of the attack shows the 18-year-old victim cowering in the corner of a room, tied up with his mouth bound in plastic. His eyes exude fear as his attackers get ready for their next act.

One assailant slashes his sweatshirt with a knife. The young woman streaming the abuse on Facebook Live repeatedly turns the camera back to herself.

An attacker then takes a knife to the victim's head, carving a patch off his scalp.
For the next 25 minutes, the abuse continues for the world to see. The victim is repeatedly kicked and punched, but his screams are apparently ignored.

The young woman broadcasting the attack appears dismayed that she's not getting more attention online.

"Y'all not even commenting on my s***," she tells a friend during the live stream.

According to the city of Chicago's website, "Hate crimes are acts of bigotry, and are committed because of the intended victim's actual or perceived ancestry, color, creed, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability (including HIV status), or national origin. Hate crimes not only harm the victim, but also the group in which the targeted member belongs."

And according to Illinois law, hate can be considered an aggravating factor in a criminal charge and can result in a more severe sentence.

The assailants made a wide array of statements in the video, including repeated references to Donald Trump, white people in general and the victim's appearance.

The victim's parents reported him missing Monday, telling police they had not heard from their son since dropping him off Saturday at a McDonald's in the Chicago suburb of Streamwood.

The victim knew at least one of his accused attackers from school, Duffin said. Though he may have voluntarily gotten into a van with the group, police are considering kidnapping charges.
Police in Streamwood said that after the man was reported missing, his parents began getting text messages from someone "claiming to be holding him captive."

Officers investigating the texts "discovered a Facebook video depicting (the man) being verbally and physically abused." It's unclear what alerted the police to check Facebook.

Soon after they discovered the video, Streamwood investigators said they were contacted by Chicago police, who said they had found the missing man.

On Tuesday, Chicago officers responded to a battery call at a home in the area where the victim had been found. There were signs of a struggle and property damage, police said. Police have not identified the person who made the call.

After viewing the Facebook video, they determined the victim was the man found on the street -- and the people arrested were involved, police said.

Police said the victim might have been with the suspects for at least 24 hours.

The suspects will appear in court Friday.
 


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