The first of four adults charged in January with the hate crime of a white special needs 18-year-old has been freed on probation in what many people are likely to believe is a rather light sentence compared to the crime. Ed initially wrote about this story when it broke.
Brittany Covington narrated a Facebook Live video showing the special needs teen being tortured and humiliated in the Chicago apartment she shared with her sister Tanishia, who is still behind bars in this matter along with co-defendants Tesfaye Cooper and Jordan Hill.
In the video, racial slurs were shouted at the mentally impaired teen. His clothes and hair were cut. He was even forced to drink water from a toilet. His captors also appeared to accuse him of being a supporter of Donald Trump. The teen looked absolutely terrified in the video as he was held for as long as 48 hours.
The two men and women who held him hostage and streamed their horrific treatment of him on Facebook Live clearly aren’t the brightest of criminals as they intentionally broadcast their crimes in what appeared to be an attempt to further humiliate the man. They even said they wanted the video to go viral. A small portion of the videos is below.
NO BAIL FOR FACEBOOK LIVE TORTURE SUSPECTS: At one point, the teens, who are black, told the victim, who is white, to say he loves black people. The suspects also made a string of profane statements about President-elect Donald Trump. At one point a suspect is heard telling the victim to, "Say f*** Trump b****. F*** Trump. Say f*** Trump." http://abc7.ws/2i07HXj
Posted by ABC 7 Chicago on Friday, January 6, 2017
You would think a crime of this magnitude that shocked people from across the country, including then President Obama, would be worthy of a serious criminal penalty. You would also be wrong.
The four have been held without bond at the Cook County Jail since January. Now, Brittany Covington is home for the holidays after getting four years probation. She also is barred from using social media for four years and forbidden from having contact with Cooper and Hill.
From The Chicago Tribune:
Calling the incident “horrific,” Cook County Circuit Judge William Hooks banned Covington from social media over the four years, prohibited her from contact with two of her co-defendants and ordered her to do 200 hours of community service.
Hooks told Covington he could have imposed a prison sentence but added, “I’m not sure if I did that you’d be coming out any better.”
Hooks said he hoped the strict terms of probation would put Covington on a more productive life path, but he warned she would face prison time if she violated any of the restrictions.
“Do not mess this up,” Hooks told Covington, who stood quietly in a blue jail uniform with her hands clasped behind her back.
The 19-year-old also pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and intimidation charges. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped additional charges, including kidnapping.
Compare her punishment to that of her victim whose grandmother said, “This is going to affect him for probably the rest of his life.” This man is likely going to have to carry around baggage from this kidnapping and assault while Brittany Covington is out of jail in less than a year.
Chicago has quite the reputation for crime and by giving such a light sentence in this matter, it’s easy to see why that reputation is earned. Time will tell if Brittany Covington’s co-defendants get a similar deal.