Police officers in Chicago have released body cam footage from the investigation of Jussie Smollett, the Empire actor accused of staging a hate crime against himself. In one of the tapes released from the nearly 70 hours of footage, Smollett appears to greet police officers with a noose around his neck.
In the video, Smollett is asked by police officers if he wants to take the noose off. “I just wanted y’all to see,” Smollett says, then tells the officer that he has also been doused with bleach.
The footage shows the actor roughly 40 minutes after he had called police to report that he had been attacked by two men shouting racist and homophobic slurs at him. Smollett also accused the men of dousing him with bleach and tying a noose around his neck. Smollett was later accused by Chicago police officers of having staged the attack against himself, possibly as a means of reinvigorating his career. Smollett denied the accusations, and has continuously stuck with his story.
The footage, along with nearly 1,200 police documents, was released by the Chicago Police Department on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Another video shows the Osundairo brothers, two men whom Smollett allegedly paid $3500 to stage the attack, wearing what appear to be hazmat suits and walking toward the site of the attack.
In March, Smollett was indicted on 16 counts by a grand jury for allegedly lying to police officers. A few weeks later, however, the charges against Smollett were abruptly dismissed by state attorney Kim Foxx. Foxx’s handling of the case was widely criticized by Chicago police officers, who accused the state attorney of using political connections to Smollett’s benefit. The city of Chicago later sued Smollett for $130,000, the estimated cost of the police investigation into the alleged assault; Smollett’s lawyers have said the actor will “not be intimidated” by police to pay the sum.
Just last week, a Cook County judge announced that the investigation of Smollett would be reopened and that a special prosecutor would be assigned to look into the allegations against him. Judge Michael Toomin wrote in his decision that, although Foxx recused herself from the case due to a preexisting connection to the Smollett family, her deputy did not have the authority to take over the Smollett case: “There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through uncharted waters, and it ultimately lost its bearings,” Toomin wrote. The reopening of the case could potentially lead to new charges being filed against Smollett.
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