CRIME

Judge denies bail for 4 suspects in Chicago torture video

Matt Finn reports on the gruesome crime

 

A judge denied bail Friday for the four suspects accused of beating a mentally disabled man and streaming it live on Facebook.

The four appeared before Cook County Associate Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil who asked them, "Where was your sense of decency?"

As seen in the horrifying video that appeared online this week, a young, mentally disabled white man was beaten, threatened with a knife and taunted with profanities directed at white people and President-elect Donald Trump. The suspects, who are black, face charges including hate crimes and aggravated battery.

"I find each of you a danger to yourself and society," Cook County Circuit Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil said, sounding baffled that the suspects who hold jobs, attend school, live with grandparents and, in one case, care for a brother in a wheelchair, could stand accused of attacking the 18-year-old victim. How, she wondered, could she agree to allow people accused of such "terrible actions" walk out of jail?

Prosecutors offered new details of the assault, explaining that one of the suspects demanded $300 from the victim's mother and that the beating started in a van and continued at a house.

The suspects are accused of forcing the victim to drink toilet water and kiss the floor, stuffing a sock into his mouth, taping his mouth shut and binding his hands with a belt.

The suspects include Brittany Covington and Tesfaye Cooper, both of Chicago, and Jordan Hill, of suburban Carpentersville. All are 18. A fourth suspect was identified as Covington's 24-year-old sister, Tanishia Covington, also of Chicago.

Hill was arrested in 2015 on allegations of armed robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and residential burglary. Chicago police said they did not know the disposition of those arrests by suburban officers.

Tanishia Covington was arrested in 2007 on attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery charges. Police records do not show any convictions as a juvenile. As an adult, she was arrested on charges of battery and aggravated assault, but those charges were dropped.

The 18-year-old victim, who is from a Chicago suburb, suffers from schizophrenia and attention-deficit disorder, authorities said.

The incident also stirred emotions still raw after a presidential election campaign that split the nation. The case heightened political tensions on social media, with some conservatives suggesting it was linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. Police said there was no indication of any connection.

Excerpts of the video posted by Chicago media outlets show the victim with his mouth taped shut and slumped in a corner of a room. At least two assailants are seen cutting off his sweatshirt, and others taunt him off camera. The video shows a wound on the top of the man's head. One person pushes the man's head with his or her foot.

A red band also appears to be around the victim's hands. He was tied up for four to five hours, authorities said.

The incident began New Year's Eve, when the victim and alleged assailant Jordan Hill met at a suburban McDonald's to begin what both the victim and his parents believed would be a sleepover, police said.

Instead, Hill drove the victim around in a stolen van for a couple of days, ending up at a home in Chicago, where two of the other suspects lived, Detective Commander Kevin Duffin said.

The victim told police what began as playful fighting escalated. A downstairs neighbor who heard noises threatened to call police. When two of the suspects left and kicked down the neighbor's door, the victim escaped. A police officer later spotted the bloodied and obviously disoriented man wandering down a street.

The victim's parents reported him missing Monday evening, two days after last hearing from him. The police report said the victim's mother knew the first name of her son's friend — Jordan — but wasn't clear on his last name. The report also noted that the victim "does not like telling his parents who he's with."

The parents later received text messages "from persons claiming to be holding him captive," police said. While investigating the messages, police discovered the Facebook video.

The gruesome video is just the latest sign that criminals have been “emboldened” to lawless acts, not just in Chicago but across the country, former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told Fox News.

"Unfortunately, this is becoming the new normal," he said on "America's Newsroom."

McCarthy said that despite nationwide outrage, political leaders respond to such crimes with a collective shrug, giving criminals the confidence to act again and again. "The more outlandish the incident, we're horrified, but there's no reaction to it."

The Windy City's former top cop stepped down in 2015 amid accusations of a cover-up over the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. A white police officer shot the black teenager 16 times. Police said McDonald had lunged at officers with a knife, but witnesses said that wasn't true.

Fox News' Martha MacCallum and The Associated Press contributed to this report.