Disabled Chicago teen tortured in Facebook livestream

  • 06/01/2017

Four people in Chicago have been charged with hate crimes after an attack on a teen with disabilities was streamed on Facebook Live.

The 28-minute video has stunned viewers in the United States, with graphic scenes of the 18-year-old man with special needs being physically and verbally abused by the group.

His mouth is bound in plastic while one attacker cuts his hair with a knife, causing his scalp to bleed. His sweatshirt is also slashed with a knife.

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

In footage of the assault, at least one of the attackers can be heard saying "f**k Donald Trump" and "f**k white people", while the victim tries to cover himself in the corner of a room.

The abuse continues throughout the video, with the attackers ignoring the victim's screams, and the young woman sharing the footage on her smartphone expressing disappointment she's not getting more attention online. 

The video shows the attackers are African Americans and the victim is white. While many people have blamed the Black Lives Matter movement, Chicago police say they see no connection between the activist group and the attackers.

"This is hate. And hate doesn't have a colour," Chicago police officer Dimitri Roberts said. "So for folks to talk about this is somehow connected to Black Lives Matter is absolutely the wrong way to look at this...and we cannot respond to hate with hate. It's just going to perpetuate the cycle."

The victim's parents reported him missing on Monday, telling police they hadn't heard from their son since dropping him at a McDonald's on Saturday.

At least one of his attackers went to the same school as him, police say. It's alleged he may have voluntarily got into a van with the group, and police are considering kidnapping charges.

On Tuesday, police officers on patrol found the victim wandering disoriented on a Chicago street, police said in a statement.

He was taken to a hospital in stable condition and later released and members of the public alerted investigators to the Facebook Live video, police said.

Facebook says it has pulled the original video from the social media platform.

"We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason," the company said in a statement.