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4 Charged With Hate Crime In Live-Streamed Alleged Torture Of Mentally Challenged Man

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 5, 2017 7:34PM

Superintendant Eddie Johnson, April 13, 2016 / Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

After a man with mental disabilities was allegedly tortured in a live-streamed video in Chicago Wednesday, all four suspects arrested in connection with the case have been charged with hate crimes, in addition to other charges.

Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago; and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago each face charges of aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary, according to the Cook County state's attorney office.

The video-which was first streamed live on Facebook then heavily circulated on social media Wednesday evening—shows the victim with his mouth taped while his scalp and sweatshirt are cut with a knife. At least one offender is heard shouting, "fuck white people" and "fuck Donald Trump."

Police announced the arrest of two men and two women at a briefing on Wednesday in which Supt. Eddie Johnson called the incident "brutal" and "sickening." But it was unclear whether or not hate crime charges would be pursued.

Police Commander Kevin Duffin said on Wednesday that it would have to be determined if the attacker's comments were sincere—“or just stupid ranting and raving”—when weighing hate crime charges.

Johnson said on Wednesday sounded doubtful when asked if the motivation appeared political. "I don't think that at this point we have anything concrete to really point us in [the direction of political motivation], but we'll keep investigating, and we'll let the facts guide us on how this concludes."

Duffin also previously said that the victim appeared to go willingly with one of the alleged attackers, whom he knew from school, according to police, but said it was "quite a possibility” the attack was a kidnapping.

A press conference is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.

The incident was heavily circulated online using the hashtag #BLMKidnapping, but there is no connection between Black Lives Matter and the four people charged.

Update, 2:45 p.m.:
At an afternoon press conference, Johnson called the actions in the video "reprehensible." "That along with racism have absolutely no place in city of Chicago... regardless of race, gender, sate of mental health or other identifying factor.

Duffin said the victim's "diminished mental capacity" and the "obvious racial" aspect to the hate crime charge. Asked which was the motivating factor, he said, it was "six of one, half dozen the other."

When questioned whether or not the victim was known to have voted for Trump, Duffin replied simply, "no."

Police also provided more details about the attack. The victim was with Jordan Hill—with whom he was acquainted but did not regularly associate, according to police—since Saturday, Dec. 31. Duffin said he was with Hill voluntarily for the first two days, but then a "play fight" escalated into what became the alleged criminal attack. The alleged crime as seen in the video, with the victim bound in the corner, took place over six hours, Duffin said. There was no premeditation before the escalation, according to Duffin.

The victim was able to escape when the offenders kicked in the door of a downstairs neighbor who had threatened to call the police due to noise. The neighbor did call and the victim fled—"bloodied and battered," wearing only an inside-out tank top, shorts and sandals—after police arrived at the downstairs residence in response to the noise call, police said.