CRIME

Chicago Police Release Nearly 70 Hours Of Video In Jussie Smollett Investigation

Police obtained the footage in their investigation of the "Empire" actor, who was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself.

Chicago police released nearly 70 hours of video on Monday related to the Jussie Smollett investigation, providing a clearer look into the “Empire” actor’s controversial case.

Two of the videos obtained in the investigation show the moment officers first arrived at Smollett’s Chicago apartment after they received a 911 call about an alleged hate crime against him in January.

Smollett is shown in the footage with a rope around his neck, which he says he kept on to show evidence of a racist attack. The footage also shows the actor saying, “There’s bleach on me,” and asking officers to turn off their body cameras.

Police opened a hate crime investigation in January after Smollett said that two men put a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him and yelled, “This is MAGA country,” among other racist and homophobic slurs. But Ola and Abel Osundairo told police that Smollett had paid them to plan and carry out the attack.

Another group of video clips in the batch released on Monday showed police apprehending the Osundairo brothers on Feb. 14 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Clips highlighted by CBS Chicago also include footage of the brothers taking a taxi minutes before meeting Smollett and footage of the brothers running after the alleged attack.

A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct after police accused him of staging the Jan. 29 attack on himself and lying to investigators.

The video files are supposed to be police’s final release of evidence in their investigation. The police department released a batch of documents on May 30 that included more than 450 pages of case reports, arrest files and supplementary files. 

A Chicago court ruled earlier in May to unseal the criminal case against Smollett, two months after Cook County prosecutors dropped all charges against the actor. The city of Chicago sued Smollett after the charges were dropped to try and recoup the money police spent on the investigation, and the Osundairo brothers have filed a federal defamation lawsuit against Smollett’s attorneys for publicly blaming them for the attack.

On June 21, Judge Michael Toomin appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the decision to dismiss the charges, suggesting that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx mishandled the Smollett case by appointing a top aide, Joe Magats, to oversee it after she recused herself in February. Toomin also left open the possibility that the special prosecutor could charge Smollett again, according to The Associated Press.

Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department “will fully cooperate with the court appointed special prosecutor.” Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation.

“Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels confirmed earlier this month that Smollett would not return to the show for its sixth and final season after Fox Entertainment made the announcement in April.

CONVERSATIONS