Facebook Responds to 'Sickening' Assault Video Posted on Social Media

Facebook said it does "not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes."

ByABC News
January 5, 2017, 11:20 AM

— -- Facebook has removed a video on its site that allegedly shows a group of people torturing a man police characterized as having mental health issues in Chicago.

A Facebook spokesperson said the video was taken down because the company does "not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook."

“We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason," the spokesperson said in a statement obtained by ABC News today. "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."

Four people were arrested in Chicago on Wednesday in connection with the video, which allegedly shows the individuals committing a "brutal act" toward a man "with mental health challenges," Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference following the arrests.

The suspects -- two men and two women -- allegedly assaulted the victim and then broadcast it "for the entire world to see," Johnson said.

"It’s sickening," Johnson said of the video. "It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat someone like that."

While on patrol on Chicago's West Side on Tuesday, police officers encountered the victim, who "didn't seem right" and was in "in distress," Chicago Police Department Capt. Steven Sesso said at the press conference. The victim was then transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Around the same time, the suspects were taken into custody for another incident near the address where the victim was found, police said. A Chicago Police press release explained that the officers "responded to a battery at a residence ... where they discovered signs of a struggle and damage to the property and were able to link this evidence to the disoriented male."

Police determined that the individuals arrested were responsible for the "injury and maltreatment" of the victim, Sesso said.

Officials later became aware of a social media video depicting a battery of an adult male which is believed to be the same individual, police said.

The video of the violent assault shows a white man with his mouth taped shut as his captors repeatedly torture him. Someone is heard yelling, "F---- white people."

At one point, the victim was threatened with a knife and told to curse President-elect Donald Trump.

"Say f--- Donald Trump," someone is heard saying.

"F--- Donald Trump," the victim says.

Detectives later determined that the victim had been listed as missing or endangered from a nearby suburb, said Chicago Police Department Cmdr. Kevin Duffin.

According to a press release issued by the Streamwood Police Department, the victim's parents reported his disappearance late Monday night, telling police they had not heard from their son since Saturday when they dropped him off at a McDonald's restaurant.

As officers were investigating, the victim's parents “began receiving text messages from persons claiming to be holding him captive,” the Streamwood Police Department stated in the press release. Soon after, Streamwood police discovered the video on Facebook and they were informed by the Chicago Police Department that the victim had been located.

Police believe the victim is an acquaintance of one of the suspects. According to Duffin, the suspects stole a van from the suburbs and drove to Chicago. The victim voluntarily went with them, Duffin said, and he may have been held captive for 24 to 48 hours.

Police believe the suspects eventually unbound the victim and let him go. He was later released from the hospital but has been "traumatized" by the incident, Duffin said.

The suspects, three of whom are Chicago residents, are expected to be charged in the next 24 hours, Duffin said at the press conference Wednesday. Police will determine whether kidnapping or hate crime charges will be given to the suspects, whom he described as "young adults." They have all given video statements.

Police do not believe any additional suspects were involved in the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

ABC News' Matthew Foster, Darren Reynolds and Nadine Shubailat contributed to this report.

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