Chicago police investigate 'Empire' star's reported assault
Jussie Smollett's family has released a statement about his alleged attack in Chicago.
In it, Smollett's family writes, "We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime."
They say the "Empire" actor "has told the police everything from the very beginning," and "his story has never changed."
See the full statement:
“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack. We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.
Our family thanks everyone for their prayers and the huge amount of love he has received. We are thankful to our village for your immense support during this trying time. We are so grateful that God saw him through this cowardly attack alive. Jussie is a warrior whose light cannot be dimmed. We want people to understand these targeted hate crimes are happening to our sisters, brothers and our gender non-conforming siblings, many who reside within the intersection of multiple identities, on a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily basis all across our country. Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such.
They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable. Make no mistake, words matter. Hateful words lead to hateful actions. Radical love is the only solution, but passivity will be our downfall. We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world.
With love & gratitude,
The Smollett Family”
Jussie Smollett said he was on the phone with his manager Brandon Moore when the actor was attacked near an entrance to the Lowes Chicago, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CNN.
Police have video of Smollett entering the Lowes after the alleged attack with what appears to be a noose around his neck. However, they have not found video of the incident at this point.
Guglielmi provided more details of the case to CNN. Here's what we know now:
- What Smollett said happened: According to Guglielmi, Smollett told detectives during his walk back from Subway sandwiches, he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of the Lowes Chicago. Guglielmi says Smollett told police the two men yelled "'Empire' fa***t" and "'Empire' n***er" while striking him. The two men put a noose around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him during the attack. Police have both the rope and Smollett’s sweater and are testing for the unknown substance on them. Those results are not back yet.
- Video of Smollett entering hotel: Chicago Police have video of Smollett entering the Lowes after the alleged attack with what appears to be a noose around his neck.
- No video of the attack yet: Police have collected and are reviewing more surveillance video from neighboring hotels and apartments. They have not found video of the incident at this point.
- When police were called: Guglielmi says the police were called 30 to 40 minutes after the attack took place. When the police arrived and spoke with Smollett, Guglielmi says the rope was still around Smollett’s neck but was tied more like a tie than a noose.
- Smollett's manager: Smollett and his manager Brandon Moore told Chicago Police they were speaking on the phone at the time of the attack. Because of the financial relationship between Smollett and Moore, Guglielmi said police have to verify the call took place during the attack. Guglielmi added this is a typical request. Police have asked both Smollett and his manager for phone records or their actual phones to verify the call occurred at the time of the attack. Smollett and Moore have not yet turned over their phone records or physical phones to Chicago Police.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked during a Wednesday night press conference about "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett's reported racist and homophobic attack.
"Obviously," the mayor said, "the alleged statement of what happened here is horrific and there is no place for it here in the city of Chicago."
Chicago police released photos of people they'd like to talk to in the case involving "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, who was the victim of what police are investigating as a possible hate crime.
Investigators have located a surveillance camera that shows people who are now wanted for questioning, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement on Twitter. Detectives had not yet found still images or video of the actual incident as of late Tuesday evening, police told CNN.
Here are the two people police want to talk to:
The Chicago Police Department tweeted Wednesday evening that they found a surveillance camera showing "potential persons of interest wanted for questioning" in the reported attack on actor Jussie Smollett.
Police added that they were working on a community alert with photos.
Chicago police said they are expanding the search area for surveillance video of actor Jussie Smollett's alleged attackers.
CNN's Sara Sidner explained why:
"So far, in a place so far with a high number of private surveillance cameras, they cannot find any images of the two alleged attackers. After combing through hundreds of hours of videos, the only image of Smollett police obtained from security cameras was inside the Subway sandwich shop near the location of the reported crime — and he was standing alone."
Chicago police have "reviewed hundreds of hours of video" as they search for footage of the reported attack on actor Jussie Smollett.
They've now expanded their search to the Chicago riverfront, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
Here's Guglielmi's full statement:
“Chicago police detectives continue to investigate serious allegations of a potential racially charged hate crime that took place in the downtown area Tuesday morning around 2 a.m.
The Streeterville neighborhood where the alleged attack occurred has a very high density of city and private surveillance cameras. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, detectives canvassed and reviewed hundreds of hours of video and have now expanded the search area along the Chicago riverfront hoping to find video to be able to release a public description of the offenders. Unfortunately, thus far we have not found any helpful information on a suspect or a suspect's vehicle to be able to share.
We are taking this investigation very seriously and detective teams will broaden our search area and work around the clock to look for video on traffic cameras, CTA buses and neighboring thoroughfares which could have captured the offender's movements. The victim in this case is cooperating fully with detectives and our investigation continues.”
A Chicago police spokesperson tells CNN that investigators canvassed the neighborhood where the reported attack occurred on actor Jussie Smollett and have found no still images or video from security cameras of the incident.
A dozen police detectives with the assistance of the FBI are working the case on Tuesday, according to police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi.
The only image of Smollett police obtained from security cameras was inside Subway Sandwich shop near the location of the reported crime, the actor was standing alone.
Chicago police say Jussie Smollett did not mention the alleged attackers shouting, “This is MAGA country” during the initial police interview. Investigators heard the claim in media reports and called the actor. He later relayed it to detectives in a supplemental interview.
Police say they are testing the chemical Smollett claimed to have been doused with and have yet to confirm the nature of the substance.
Editor's note: We are updating our headline on this story to reflect the latest information from Chicago police as they investigate Smollett's allegations.
California Sen. Kamala Harris mirrored New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's description of the Jussie Smollett assault, calling it "an attempted modern day lynching."
See the tweet:
Harris and Booker were co-sponsored of an anti-lynching bill that cleared the Senate last December (after years of failed attempts to do so), and which now lies with the House.