Hate crime and battery charges have been filed against four black suspects accused in the kidnapping and beating of a special-needs white man in Chicago. A graphic video shows the attackers torturing the victim while cursing white people and President-elect Donald Trump.
The footage was streamed Tuesday on Facebook Live by a woman identified on the social media platform as “Brittany Herring.”
Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago; and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago face felony aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, robbery and residential burglary charges.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the beating demonstrates “a level of depravity that is an outrage to a lot of Americans.”
Earnest said he has not yet spoken to President Obama about the incident but said he’s confident the president “would be angered by the images that are depicted on that video.”
A reporter asked Earnest if the attack should be considered a hate crime.
“I think it’s too early to tell. I certainly don’t want to predict where the investigation will lead,” Earnest told the reporter. “I wouldn’t speculate at this point to what degree federal officials would get involved for considering those kinds of crimes.”
The video shows a white man – reportedly a special-needs person who was reported missing from a suburb – slumped against a corner on the floor of a room.
He is tied up and has tape binding his mouth.
“F–k Donald Trump, nigga! F–k white people, boy! F–k white people, boy!” one attacker shouts as he kicks the man.
The assailants laugh about their attack being reported to the police after a Facebook user warns them that they will be arrested.
When another Facebook commenter tells them their torture isn’t funny, they mock her and claim it is.
CBS Chicago reported that the victim’s clothes were slashed, he was “peppered with cigarette ashes, and then his hair cut with a knife until his scalp bled.”
“Kiss the floor, b–ch,” the attackers howl.
(WARNING: The following video contains graphic violence and explicit language. Proceed with caution. Not appropriate for children.)
A second video surfaced on Twitter Thursday that appears to show the suspects grabbing the victim’s head, shoving it into a toilet and forcing him to drink.
“Drink that s–t right f—ing now. … Drink the toilet water, b—ch! Say f— Trump! Say f— Trump!” someone is heard yelling.
The grandmother of one of the suspects 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 downs. [She] was a good person. I’m so confused.”
Police told the station the attack took place on the 3400 block of West Lexington on Chicago’s West Side. The victim was treated at a local hospital and then released to his parents on Wednesday evening.
“Officers found the victim wandering the neighborhood in an obvious state of trauma, and it was later that authorities drew the connection with the disturbing Facebook video,” CBS Chicago reported.
“[The victim] is an acquaintance of one of these subjects,” Chicago Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin told CBS Chicago. “Apparently, they met out in the suburbs. These subjects then stole a van out in the suburbs and then brought him into Chicago.”
At a Wednesday press conference, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson said: “It’s sickening. It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that.”
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday morning that despite the “terrible racist statements” made during the assault, police believe the victim was targeted because he has “special needs,” not because of his race.
Guglielmi also said police are looking into the possibility the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim’s family.
Police said they have not been able to connect any of the suspects to the Black Lives Matter activist group.
When asked if the victim had given a full statement about the attack, another officer said, “He’s traumatized by the incident.”