Hate crime charges brought against four who kidnapped, tortured mentally-challenged man

Ed covered the disturbing video showing four people torturing a mentally-challenged man earlier today. He wrote at the time “If we are to have ‘hate crimes,’ then this clearly falls within that classification.” Now the four individuals who were arrested have been charged with hate crimes and other charges. From NBC5 Chicago:

Jordan Hill, 18, of Carpentersville; Tesfaye Cooper, 18, of Chicago; Brittany Covington, 18, of Chicago; and Tanishia Covington, 24, of Chicago, were each charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Hill, Cooper and Brittany Covington also face charges of residential burglary. Hill was also charged with robbery.

Police Cmdr. Kevin Duffin had earlier said he wasn’t sure if the kidnapping and torture represented a hate crime. From the Associated Press:

Asked Wednesday about the racial comments on the video, Duffin said the four people in custody were “young adults, and they make stupid decisions.”

When considering a potential hate crime charge, investigators will have to determine whether the racial remarks were “sincere or just stupid ranting and raving,” Duffin said.

A city of Chicago web page devoted to hate crime victim assistance says a hate crime is an act of bigotry based on a number of factors including “physical or mental disability.” So even if police believe the motive here was about the victim’s disability, rather than his race, it would seem they still have cause to judge this a hate crime.

The victim is said to be traumatized by his ordeal. His parents had dropped him off at a McDonalds on Saturday where the 18-year-old was to meet a friend. He was reported missing by his parents on Monday and found wandering the streets on Tuesday. He eventually led police back to the scene of the crime. NBC5 reports the kidnappers were texting the man’s family during the incident:

Police said the suspects had been sending the victim’s parents text messages while holding him hostage.

“This is going to affect him for probably the rest of his life,” the teen’s grandmother said.

There’s no indication what was in those text messages. Were they hoping to ransom the victim or simply trying to terrorize his family?