Just hours after singer and actor Jussie Smollett handed over “limited and redacted” phone records related to his alleged attack two weeks ago, the Chicago Police Department told the press that “the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation” and that detectives “may be following up with him to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline.”
ABC 7 Chicago’s Rob Elgas reported late Monday that shortly after the “Empire” star turned over the “limited and redacted” phone records connected to the alleged attack, Chicago police spokesman AJ Guglielmi told the outlet, “We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation.”
“Detectives may be following up with him (Smollett) to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline,” Guglielmi added, Elgas reports.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Smollett told the New York Post in an email that phone records from Smollett’s manager, Brandon Z, “were sent to police on Feb. 5 and Jussie’s records were sent over this morning.” The records from Smollett contained information “from within an hour of the incident,” the spokesperson added. Fox 32 Chicago’s Rafer Weigel reported Monday that the records were “limited and redacted.”
Police requested Smollett’s phone records upon beginning the investigation into what Smollett described as a racist and homophobic attack that included the alleged assaulters tying a rope around his neck. Smollett said he was speaking with his manager when he was attacked while walking home from Subway at around 2 a.m. January 29. The men told police that the attackers said “This is MAGA country” and called Smollett a “f***ot” and “n***er,” while assaulting him and dousing him with an unknown chemical.
Smollett declined turning over his phone because he said he couldn’t be without it for a few hours, the Post reports. Guglielmi stressed to the Post Sunday afternoon that police “have no reason to doubt” Smollett, but need his phone data to further the investigation, particularly since none of the surveillance footage, which reportedly covers all but about 60 seconds of Smollett’s walk home from Subway, has shown any evidence of the attack.
An official with the department told CBS Chicago that video from Smollett’s building shows him “entering with what appears to be a noose around his neck.” Other surveillance footage shows two men dressed in dark clothes in the vicinity between 15 and 30 minutes before the actor arrived back at his apartment, but police have thus far been unable to identify the men and sources have suggested they might be homeless.
“We have no reason to doubt the statements, but for a criminal investigation, we need to independently confirm the phone records,” Guglielmi told the Post on Sunday. Last week, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson made headlines when said that while Smollett was still considered the “victim,” if the actor’s report turned out to be false, he would be held accountable.
On January 29, Smollett said he was confronted by two men, one masked, who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him, threw an unknown chemical on him, believed to be bleach, and punched him in the face. They also allegedly tied a rope around his neck, the same rope he was still reportedly wearing when police arrived at his apartment about 45 minutes later.
Last week, police revealed that review of surveillance footage had thus far come up empty and that the rope had become a key component in the investigation. “Police say they’re trying to determine the origin of the rope that was used in the alleged attack,” CBS Chicago reported Thursday. “Detectives are looking into where it came from or where it may have been purchased.”