Four people have been charged with hate crimes and other felonies in connection with a Facebook Live video. The video, which has since been taken down, appears to show the torture and taunting of a white special needs man.
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CHICAGO – A Cook County judge denied bail Friday for four suspects charged with the torture and beating of an 18-year-old man with mental health challenges that was broadcast on Facebook Live.

Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said that two of the suspects ordered the victim, who suffered from schizophrenia and was assaulted and humiliated for hours, to say “I love black people” and “f— Trump.” The suspects also repeatedly beat the teen and two of the suspects shoved his head into a toilet and made him drink from it, prosecutors said

“Where was your sense of decency?” asked Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil before rejecting the suspects plea for a reasonable bail.

The Cook County prosecutors office charged Jordan Hill, 18, of Chicago; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Cicero, Ill.; and sisters Brittany Covington, 18; and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago, with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and residential burglary in the alleged torture and kidnapping of the special-needs teen.

Prosecutors cited both the victim’s race – he is white – and disability as why he was targeted by the suspects. Those factors allowed authorities to charge the suspects with a hate crime.

Hill also was charged with robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Antonietti said that victim and Hill knew each other after attending the same alternative high school in suburban Chicago.

The victim’s mother dropped him off on Dec. 31 at a McDonald’s in suburban Streamwood, so he could meet a friend who turned out to be Hill.

After leaving McDonald’s, Hill, the victim and a third unidentified person went to buy and smoke marijuana, authorities said.

The teen contacted his mother on that day and again on New Year’s Day to tell her he wanted to spend the night at his friend Jordan’s home. But the victim’s family said they stopped hearing from the victim on Monday and were concerned, prosecutors said.

The victim’s brother was able to figure out by logging on the victim’s Facebook page that he was with Hill. The victim’s mother reached out to Hill through Facebook and requested he put her in contact with her son, who investigators later learned had driven to the West Side of Chicago with Hill and a second unidentified individual in a stolen van.

At some point, Hill had become angry that the victim’s mother had contacted him, and beat the victim in the back of the van. He also took the victim’s cell phone and SIM card and then took him to him to the apartment on the city’s West Side, where Brittany and Tanishia Covington lived.

“Defendant Hill and the victim entered the third floor apartment where they were met by defendant Cooper, defendant Britannia Covington and defendant Tanishia Covington,” Antonietti said. “Hill and Cooper ordered the victim into a corner and to face the wall. Defendants Hill and Cooper yelled and screamed at the victim while Hill was armed with a knife. The victim was made to say ‘I love black people,’ and ‘F— Trump.'”

The two teens continued to mock and beat the teen, and would force him to drink toilet water. Brittany Covington began livestreaming the assault on Facebook, in which all four can be heard or seen taunting and beating the victim.

During the nearly 30 minute Facebook Live post, which went viral, Hill used a knife to cut a chunk of the victims hair, causing his head to bleed. Hill also stabbed the victim in his left forearm, prosecutors said.

All four suspects allegedly beat the victim and used knives to cut his clothes. The video also shows the victim with duct tape around his mouth and belts tied around his arms, while the assailants can be heard speaking disparagingly of the president-elect and white people.

During the course of the attack,  Hill also contacted the victim’s mother and demanded $300 ransom in exchange for her son.

Police said a downstairs neighbor threatened to report the suspects over the noise. The suspects were angered by the threat, and went downstairs to threaten the neighbors, giving the victim a chance to escape.

“Both the female defendants and Cooper chased the witnesses back down into their second floor apartment after Hill threatened he was going to come back with a gun,” Antonietti said. “Defendant Cooper kicked in the door of the second floor unit and he and and the two females entered the…apartment while the witnesses ran out the back door and went to the first floor neighbors to call 911.”

The bloodied and battered victim was spotted by police Tuesday afternoon walking along a sidewalk in cold weather wearing only sandals, shorts and a tank top turned inside out and backward.

The victim has since been reunited with his family.

After the judge denied the four suspects bail, Priscilla Covington, the grandmother of the two sisters charged in the attack, expressed anguish as she left the courthouse.

“I didn’t raise them that way,” she told reporters.

Follow USA TODAY Chicago correspondent Aamer Madhani on Twitter: @AamerISmad

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