CHICAGO — Chicago police are questioning four people regarding an apparent case of torture that was streamed live on social media. The individual who broadcast the video is one of the four now being questioned.
“Video of a brutal act towards an adult male with mental health challenges made its way onto social media. Images in the video put on display, brazenous of the offenders who assaulted the victim and then broadcast it for the entire world to see. Thanks to the outstanding work of police officers and detectives, all four offenders from the incident are in police custody and awaiting formal charges. The victim, who is not a Chicago resident, is currently recovering from the incident. I’ve said time and time again that if you commit an act of violence in the city of Chicago, you will feel the full weight of the Chicago Police Department and tonight, four individuals have experienced the consequences of their actions,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.
The disturbing 30-minute video shows a man tied up and his mouth covered, cowering in the corner of room. His attackers laugh and shout “(expletive) Donald Trump” and “(expletive) white people” as they kick and punch him and and cut into his forehead with a knife.
TMZ has posted the video. NOTE: It is disturbing, and not suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.
Police said officers on Wednesday, January 3rd observed a disoriented man with special needs walking on Lexington Street near S. Homan Avenue. The man was taken to the hospital for treatment.
“These officers encountered the individual and the situation didn’t seem right. The individual was in distress, in crisis — and they cared enough to do something about it,” police said during a news conference Wednesday.
Around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, officers responded to a battery at a home on W. Lexington near S. Spauling Avenue — where they discovered signs of a struggle and damage to the property.
Police were able to link this evidence to the disoriented male.
Officers later became aware of Facebook Live video depicting a battery of a man — believed to be the same individual.
At this point, police believe the video is credible and detectives are questioning persons of interest in the case.
“It’s sickening. It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that,” police said.
Chicago police said during a news conference Wednesday the persons of interest in this case — two men and two women — 18 years old — apparently drove to a suburb of Chicago and stole a van — bringing the man seen in the Facebook Live video to Chicago.
Police said the victim in this case knew one of the four persons of interest, having attended school with that person.
Police are looking into whether the victim went with these individuals voluntarily — or whether he was kidnapped. Police did say a missing persons report had been filed regarding this victim — and he was considered a missing/endangered person.
The victim, who police believe is from a neighboring suburb, was transported to a hospital in stable condition. Police said the victim was traumatized by this incident, and it took him nearly all night to calm down enough to where he was able to talk with investigators.
Police said the victim was with these persons of interest for at least 24 hours — possibly 48.
The investigation is ongoing. Police said they expect charges to be filed within the next 24 hours.
Police said they’re investigating whether this was a hate crime — as there were things said in the video about white people, and President-elect Donald Trump. Additionally, the victim in this case is white, and his alleged attackers are African-American.
It’s possible the racially charged statements were little more than “stupid rantings” from young adults about “something they think might make a headline, police said. Police do not believe the attack was politically motivated.
“The persons of interest are 18. Young adults can make stupid decisions. The video will certainly be a part of whether we seek hate crime charges. The motive is not known,” police said.
The original video is no longer on the suspect’s Facebook profile. It is unclear if Facebook took it down.
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 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.