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Hate Crimes Charges Filed Against Four Who Live-Streamed Attack on Special Needs Man

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson calls the assault ”reprehensible“

The four people who kidnapped a special needs man and tortured him while live streaming the video to Facebook have been charged with hate crimes, Chicago police said on Thursday.

The individuals who took the video — 18-year-olds Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper and Brittany Covington, as well as 24-year-old Tanishia Covington — have been charged with felony crimes, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

“We have the statements of the four of them,” Chicago Area North Detectives Commander Kevin Duffin said at a news conference on Thursday. “They admit that they were beating him, kicking him, they made him drink toilet water, and then obviously the video where they’re cutting a piece of his scalp.”

In the video, the assailants, who are black, are shown yelling at the bound and gagged man, who appears to be white. At least one of the assailants can be heard saying “f— white people” and tells the victim to say “f— Donald Trump.”

According to police, the 18-year-old victim was tied up and tormented for as long as five hours. He is now at home with his parents and expected to fully recover. Both the victim’s race and mental health factored into the decision to file hate crime charges against the four alleged assailants.

“Let me be very clear: the actions in that video are reprehensible,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

According to police, the victim’s parents dropped him off at a local McDonald’s where he encountered Hill, with whom he attended school. The two then traveled to the home of sisters Brittany and Tanishia Covington, where the torture was filmed.

Officers found the victim disoriented on the street, later connecting him to the video, which went viral earlier this week.

The incident has been referred to online as the #BLMKidnapping, though no evidence suggests the attack had any connection to the Black Lives Matter movement.

President Obama said in a Thursday interview with Chicago’s WBBM that the attack was a “despicable sort” of hate crime. He went on to say that the public is highly sensitive to racial incidents now “in part because we see visuals of racial tensions, violence and so forth because of smart phones and the Internet.”

Watch the full Chicago Police news conference below: