The allegedly racist and homophobic attack on gay “Empire” star Jussie Smollett continues to unravel, with police now promising the actor “will be held accountable” if he filed a false report.
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 5, 2019
“#ChicagoPolice Supt Eddie Johnson says #JussieSmollet is still being treated as the victim in the case but if the investigation does reveal he made a false report he will be held accountable,” Fox 32 Chicago reporter Rafer Weiel posted to Twitter Tuesday.
The promise to prosecute comes eight days after Smollett alleged on January 29 that he was attacked by two racists in downtown Chicago around 2 a.m., as he walked home from a late night trip to Subway following a red-eye flight from New York. Smollett told police two men were loitering outside in the sub-zero temperatures and recognized him as “that Empire fa**ot ni**er.”
The men, he said, repeatedly punched him in the face, put a noose around his neck, and dumped bleach over the actor. Smollett claimed the men shouted anti-gay and anti-black slurs during the beating and told Smollett was in “MAGA country,” CWB Chicago reports.
The incident prompted Democratic politicians and presidential candidates, celebrities, and social justice warriors across the country to denounce the alleged hate crime and Chicago Police investigated.
There is no such thing as “racially charged.”
This attack was not “possibly” homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack.
If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes. https://t.co/QAi0IYtSeR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 30, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
— TMZ (@TMZ) January 31, 2019
That’s when Smollett’s story started to fall apart.
ICYMI ==> Here’s the Chicago PD’s original Jussie Smollett incident report (released after FOIA request) https://t.co/DBJXOZDcBH
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) February 5, 2019
The actor and musician claimed he was on the phone with his manager, Brandon Z. Moore, during the attack, and Moore alleges he heard the racist slurs. But neither will turn over their phones for investigators to confirm their claims.
Smollett was also still wearing the rope when police arrived at his apartment building 45 minutes after the alleged attack. Police poured through hundreds of hours of surveillance video but have not identified any trace of the suspects or their vehicle. The only two “persons of interest” turned out to be a couple of homeless folks walking away from the area well before the reported incident.
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 1, 2019
Video did surface of Smollett wearing the rope in the lobby of his apartment building, Subway sandwich in hand. Initial reports claimed the attackers were white, but police contend Smollett said they were wearing ski masks.
Initial reports also claimed Smollett was admitted to the hospital because the attackers “fractured a rib,” but he clarified during a concert at a West Hollywood night club just days later that he was merely treated and released for a “bruised” rib.
Jussie Smollett speaks out on inaccuracies surrounding his attack. pic.twitter.com/xHYW8Q5bBy
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) February 3, 2019
Video shows he then declared himself “the gay Tupac.”
“I went to the doctor immediately,” Smollett told the crowd, according to The Huffington Post. “Both my doctors in LA and Chicago cleared me to perform, but said to take care, obviously. And after all, I fought the f**k back.”
According to the Washington Blade, Smollett closed the show by telling his audience: “Be as black, be as brown, be as gay as the fuck you want to be. Now is the time. Be blacker, be gayer, do it right the fuck now.”
Critics online continued to poke holes in Smollett’s story, pointing out that bleach freezes at 18 degrees and it was -9 in Chicago on Jan. 29. Others questioned why he appeared calm and didn’t mention the attack to his apartment lobby attendant, and why Smollett would want to hold onto his bleach-soaked Subway sandwich – which he somehow managed to save along with his phone while fighting back during the violent encounter.
Others pointed to Smollett’s profanity-laced online rants against President Trump, including a vile tweet not long before the alleged attack.
Shut the hell up you bitch ass nigga. You will continue to run this country further into the ground and risk lives every time you breathe. You’re not the president. Just a dumpster full of hate. FOH. Sick to my stomach that literal shit currently represents America to the world. https://t.co/qoNWllmZIm
— Jussie Smollett (@JussieSmollett) January 12, 2018
— livefreeordie (@KevinQpubliq) February 2, 2019
Now, police are reportedly working to identify the source of the rope used in the attack, and perhaps who purchased it. Investigators issued subpoenas for phone records from Smollett and his manager, as well, according to CWB Chicago.
“A source close to the case said Monday that investigators were visiting retail stores, which may indicate that the search for video and transaction records is underway,” the news site reports.
Chicago Police Department is also “getting ‘ducks in a row’ for possible interrogations,” Fox News’ Matt Finn posted to Twitter Tuesday.
•CPD: no video yet of the “redneck” with a rope & redneck description didn’t match w suspects.
•Subway in hand? PD holding that detail to see if people coming forward match w/ they have on cam.
•CPD: getting ‘ducks in row’ for possible interrogations.
— Matt Finn (@MattFinnFNC) February 5, 2019
Finn said officials didn’t identify who specifically they plan to interrogate.