How the Victim Allegedly Tortured in Facebook Video Escaped His Captors

PHOTO: Four suspects were charged in connection with a Facebook video that allegedly shows a victim being tortured. From left, Tanishia Covington, Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper, and Brittany Covington.PlayChicago Police Department, via AFP/Getty Images
WATCH 4 Teens in Facebook Live Torture Video Face Charges

Chicago police revealed today how the man seen bound and allegedly tortured in a Facebook Live video was able to escape his captors.

After nearly six hours of being tormented by his captors Tuesday, the man, an 18-year-old with what a police official described as "mental health challenges," managed to free himself and escape after his captors left the apartment to confront a neighbor on a lower floor who had complained about the noise they were making, Chicago Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said at a press conference today.

The neighbor complained to two of the suspects who live in the apartment — sisters Brittany Covington, 18, and Tanishia Covington, 24 — and threatened to call the police if the noise didn't stop, Duffin said.

The sisters were angry about being asked to quiet down, so they left the apartment and went downstairs to kick in the neighbor's door, he said.

That provided the man an opportunity to escape to the street.

Police officers originally responded to a damaged property call at the Covingtons' building, stemming from the sisters' kicking the neighbor's door, when they located the victim on street nearby.

Officer Michael Donnelly was responding to the call when he spotted the victim wearing jean shorts, sandals and an inside-out and backward tank top, despite the frigid temperatures. Donnelly said the victim was "bloody" and "battered." The officer approached the man, called an ambulance and left him with two other officers, then went to investigate at the Covingtons' building.

Last Saturday the victim's parents dropped him off at a McDonald's in Streamwood, a suburb northwest of Chicago, thinking he would be spending the night with a friend and school acquaintance, suspect Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville.

Hill picked up the victim in a stolen van, which the victim assumed was Hill's, and the pair drove to the west side of Chicago and visited with friends for two days, sleeping in the van overnight. Duffin said.

The victim's parents reported him missing on Monday. The next day, the victim and Hill went to the Covingtons' home.

Several hours later, a "play fight" between the victim and Hill escalated, and the suspects bound him and began to assault him, Duffin said.

"That's when racial slurs and [references] to his mental capacity starts coming out," Duffin said of the video. "That's primarily one of the reasons why they were charged with the hate crime."

The video was posted on Facebook but was later removed. The social media company said it "does not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook."

The video of the assault shows the victim, a white man, with his mouth taped shut as his captors allegedly 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.

President Obama addressed the video today, telling ABC affiliate WLS in Chicago that "we appear to have seen" a hate crime in the alleged attack on the victim.

"It's terrible," he said about the incident.

Hill, the Covingtons and 18-year-old Tesfaye Cooper of Chicago were charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Hill, Cooper and Brittany Covington were also charged with residential burglary. Hill was additionally charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the prosecutor's office.

In video statements to investigators, the suspects admitted to beating and kicking the victim as well as making him drink toilet water, Duffin said.

They will appear in court on Friday afternoon.

The victim is doing "as well as he could be at this time," his brother-in-law David Boyd said at a press conference Thursday.

ABC News' Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

Comments