Woman gets probation in Facebook hate-crime case

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Brittany Covington | Cook County Sheriff’s Department

A woman who live-streamed herself and a trio of friends abusing a mentally disabled man and taunting him with racial insults was sentenced to probation Friday after spending nearly a year behind bars.

Brittany Covington, 19, had been held at the Cook County Jail without bond since January, when she and co-defendants Tesfaye Cooper, Jordan Hill and her 24-year-old sisterTanishia Covington were arrested on kidnapping and hate-crime charges.

The plea deal prosecutors made with Brittany Covington makes her the first of the four to be released, though she will remain on probation for four years and is barred from contact with Cooper and Hill.

Brittany Covington, of Chicago; (clockwise from upper left) Tesfaye Cooper, of Chicago; Jordan Hill, of Carpentersville; and Tanishia Covington, of Chicago. | Chicago Police

Brittany Covington, of Chicago; (clockwise from upper left) Tesfaye Cooper, of Chicago; Jordan Hill, of Carpentersville; and Tanishia Covington, of Chicago. | Chicago Police

Brittany Covington narrated Facebook Live video of the others tormenting the 18-year-old white man in the West Side apartment she shared with her sister.

The victim, a Crystal Lake man who had been classmates with Hill at a west suburban alternative high school, appears terror-stricken as he was taunted with racially-tinged insults —including calling him a supporter of then-President-elect Donald Trump. Hill and Cooper allegedly cut his clothing with a knife, punched and kicked him. In one Facebook video, the man was forced to drink water from a toilet bowl.

The victim, on video, was also was allegedly threatened with a knife. Someone told the victim, “kiss the floor, b—-!” and “nobody can help you anymore.” At one point, someone told the victim, “say ‘I love black people.’ ”

The videos drew outrage from then President Barack Obama, who condemned the acts as “despicable.”

The saga began on New Year’s Eve, when Hill had picked the victim up at a Streamwood McDonald’s, driving a van he had stolen, prosecutors said. The pair drove around visiting friends for about three days, police said.

At some point, the victim got into a “play fight” with Hill in the Covington sisters’ apartment in the 3300 block of West Lexington. The“play fight” escalated to the defendants binding the victim and battering him in a corner of the apartment, police said.

The victim managed to escape, and police found him, wearing shorts and his torn clothing, a block away. Streamwood police officials say the victim’s parents had made a missing-persons report after their son didn’t return home.

Plea negotiations are ongoing with her three co-defendants, all of whom also have been in custody.

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