2 men go to prison for brutal River North attack that went viral last summer

Two Chicago men have been sentenced to prison for brutally beating and robbing two men in the middle of State Street last year. CWBChicago published city of Chicago surveillance footage of the attack one day after it happened early on August 28, 2021. The video went viral, drawing widespread attention to River North’s growing crime problem.

Mekiel Hampton, 22, and Brandon Jefferson, 34, reported to prison this month and will be paroled in just under three years, according to court records.

The video is still hard to watch as a man gets sucker-punched and slams to the pavement. Another man is attacked. Vultures move in to rob both victims, even taking their shoes, as they lie injured in the middle of State Street near Hubbard. Then, there was the group of women who started twerking in the traffic lanes while the men were being victimized steps away.

After Chicago police received calls about the attack, it took cops more than six minutes to show up.

Jefferson was the first to be arrested. Prosecutors said he was wearing one of the victims’ crucifix necklace and was driving the victim’s car when cops arrested him two days after the attack.

“They just putting it all on me. That’s not right,” he told Judge Arthur Willis during an initial bail hearing.

“If you saw the video, you should know,” Jefferson continued.

Prosecutors provided more details about what the video showed and the events leading up to the incident: 55-year-old restaurant chef Edwin Barone was working on his laptop inside Snickers Bar, 448 North State, when Hampton told the man to hand over the computer. The man reportedly gave the laptop to the bartender because he thought Hampton would steal it.

When Barone stepped outside for a moment, Hampton began chasing him down the 400 block of North State Street, and Jefferson—wearing a black baseball hat and no shirt—became involved in the altercation. Jefferson took Barone’s wallet when it fell from his pocket, prosecutors said.

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Meanwhile, the second victim left the same bar and was knocked unconscious when the unknown attacker punched him in the head. According to prosecutors, Jefferson and several others attacked and stole property from the second man, who was 40-years-old.

This month, Jefferson pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, two counts of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, and possessing a stolen motor vehicle, according to court records.

Judge Catherine Haberkorn sentenced him to eight years on each count. The sentences will be served concurrently, and he will receive a 50% sentence reduction for good behavior as well as credit for time spent in county jail.

He is scheduled to be released on August 11, 2025.

Hampton pleaded guilty to robbery and two counts of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm on August 31. Haberkorn sentenced him to four years on each count, to be served concurrently. He will also receive a 50% good behavior reduction and jail credit.

Illinois Department of Corrections records say Hampton will be paroled on June 10, 2025.

Prosecutors said Barone suffered a broken nose, concussion, and two black eyes, while the other victim sustained orbital bone fractures and a broken nose.

About CWBChicago 6713 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com