A Chicago woman who live-streamed video of the racially charged beating of a teen with mental disabilities pleaded guilty Friday to a hate crime and was sentenced to four years of probation.
Brittany Covington, 19, has been in custody since her arrest in January.
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.
The video, which sparked national outrage, focuses often on Covington’s face. She smokes what appears to be a blunt — a cigar stuffed with marijuana — while narrating some of the action.
Three others were charged in the incident: alleged ringleader Jordan Hill, 19, as well as Tesfaye Cooper, 19, and Covington’s sister, Tanishia, 25. Their cases are still pending.
The video, posted in January, shows the four — who are all African-American — cutting the 18-year-old white victim’s scalp with a knife, punching and kicking him and laughing as he was bound and gagged in an apartment on Chicago’s West Side.
The gruesome video drew condemnation from many, including then-President Barack Obama. Right-wing pundits used it as a rallying cry, tying it without evidence to the Black Lives Matter movement and blaming permissive policing.
Among the abuse seen on the Facebook video, prosecutors have said, is one of the women laughing as she punches the teen; a male foot on the victim’s head; the teen groaning in pain as a male pulls a cord around his neck; and the victim screaming in fear when a male approaches with a knife, saying, “Should I shank his a–?”
At one point, prosecutors said, Hill and Cooper ordered the victim into a bathroom and forced him to drink water from the toilet.
The teen was bound and gagged, a sock placed in his mouth and his lips taped shut. With the knife, Hill then cut a chunk of the victim’s hair, cutting his head, and stabbed him in the left forearm, prosecutors have said.
The victim, who prosecutors said has schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was able to flee the building when the four co-defendants left the apartment to confront neighbors who had complained about the noise, prosecutors have said.
He was treated at a hospital for cuts to his head, face and body as well as a stab wound to his left arm, authorities said.