New video released by the Chicago police late Monday night shows that when officers went to investigate a possible hate crime against actor Jussie Smollett in January, the former Empire star greeted them still wearing a long piece of tangled rope around his neck.
The video, taken by a police bodycam, shows one of Smollett’s employees—his creative director, to be precise—leading police up from the lobby to the actor’s Streeterville apartment, where Smollett met them.
“The reason I called it in is because of this shit,” he says, tugging at the makeshift noose around Smollett’s neck.
“Do you want to take it off or anything?”
“Yeah, I do, I just wanted y’all to see it,” Smollett responds. He adds that his attackers also poured bleach on him.
The footage was among more than 70 hours of video, along with 1,200 documents, that Chicago police released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In the same video, Smollett and his manager say they don’t want to make a big deal of the incident, at one point asking officers to turn their body cameras off.
“He doesn’t want this to be a big deal, you understand what I’m saying,” Smollett’s manager says, according to ABC Chicago. “The thing that makes me emotional is they put this makeshift loop, what do you call that thing, a noose around his (expletive) neck. I’m sorry, you know. And that is what bothers me, the cut thing doesn’t bother me at all. If that makes any sense.”
As we all know, the incident became a very big deal—with no clear end in sight (it has, quite literally, ran almost the entire length of 2019). Chicago police ended up accusing Smollett, who is openly gay, of making up the racist, homophobic attack against him, charging him with making a false police report. The charges against Smollett—16 in total—were later dropped by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office for Chicago, which decided that the low-level, nonviolent offenses Smollett was charged with could be dealt with via “alternative prosecution” (in this case, a $100,000 fine).
The new information released by Chicago police doesn’t contain any substantial revelatory details but maps out when police suspected that the attack on Smollett was bogus. Among the new documents released were printouts of text exchanges between Smollett and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo, one of two brothers police say were involved in the alleged hoax, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
On Jan. 25, Smollett sent Osundairo the text, “Might need your help on the low. You around to meet to talk face to face.” Police interpreted that as the beginning of the pair planning the fake crime.
But on Jan. 29, the day Smollett reported the attack to police, Osundairo sent the following text to Smollett: “Bruh say it ain’t true. I’m praying for a speedy recovery.”
As it stands, the Smollett case remains far from resolved. Just last week, a Cook County judge appointed a special prosecutor to look into how prosecutors handled the investigation.