4 in Custody in Connection With ‘Sickening’ Facebook Live Video Apparently Showing Torture of Man in Chicago
A young woman who broadcast the beating of a man on Facebook Live has been arrested with three others in connection with the gruesome attack, Chicago Police said Wednesday.
The disturbing 30-minute video shows a man tied up and his mouth covered, cowering in the corner of a room. His attackers laugh and shout "f*ck Donald Trump" and "f*ck white people" as they kick and punch him and and cut into his forehead with a knife.
Police described the victim as an 18-year-old with special needs who was taken from the suburbs. Patrol officers found the disoriented young man wandering the street "in crisis" Wednesday afternoon and brought him to a hospital.
Shortly afterward, officers responded to a battery call at a residence near where he was found and saw signs of a struggle and property damage, police said. After viewing the video they determined the victim was the man found on the street and that the people arrested were involved, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
The suspects, two men and two women, all 18 years old, are in custody awaiting formal charges, he said in a news conference Wednesday.
"It's sickening," he said. "It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that."
The victim knew at least one of his accused attackers from a school in the suburbs, Commander Kevin Duffin said. Though he may have voluntarily gotten into a van with the group, police are considering kidnapping charges. Police determined the man was reported missing from a Chicago suburb.
Three of the four suspects are Chicago residents, and the victim is from a Chicago suburb, Duffin said. The fourth suspect is from Carpentersville, Illinois.
Because the victim was white and the people in the video are black, police are investigating whether hate crime charges are appropriate, Duffin said in response to reporters' questions about the possibility of a bias attack.
It's possible the racially charged statements were little more than "stupidity" from young adults about "something they think might make a headline," Johnson added. He said he did not believe the attack was politically motivated.
"If you commit an act of violence in the city of Chicago you will experience the full weight of the Chicago Police Department," he said. "Tonight four individuals have felt the consequences of their actions."
The victim was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition. Police wouldn't specify the nature of his injuries, but said he is so traumatized that "it took most of the night for him to calm down enough to talk" to detectives.
Video pulled from Facebook
Facebook confirmed that it pulled the original video from the suspect's Facebook profile.
"We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason. In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed."
According to its community standards, the company removes content, disables accounts and works with law enforcement in cases of a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety. Otherwise, Facebook users can report potentially offensive material to real people dedicated to responding to such reports. If a live stream starts blowing up, staffers monitor it for possible violations and interrupt it if need be.