Jussie Smollett Says He Didn’t Hand Over Phone Because Don Lemon Texted That Police Didn’t Believe Him
ussie Smollett and Don Lemon attend the 2018 Ailey Spirit Gala Benefit at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on June 14, 2018 in New York City.
Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett testified Monday that he did not immediately hand over his cell phone to authorities partly because CNN’s Don Lemon texted him saying that the Chicago police did not believe his claims that two men attacked him and hurled racial and homophobic epithets at the gay black actor.

Earlier on Monday, Smollett gave the court details about his sex life and drug habits with his alleged attackers, claimed there was no “hoax,” and said that he did not practice any attack but that he was driving around smoking a blunt shortly before the supposed assault by two African brothers occurred.

The Daily Wire reported Monday that despite Smollett’s claims of being attacked, police investigated his allegations and suspected he was lying.

Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo are accused by Smollett of attacking him on a January 2019 night as part of an alleged hate crime. Smollett claims the brothers targeted the celebrity because he was gay and black. Smollett has maintained he was attacked by the two brothers walking home from the sandwich shop Subway, where they assaulted him and hung a noose around his neck chanting, “This is MAGA country.”

As law enforcement investigated Smollett’s allegations, Chicago authorities suspected that he staged the entire ordeal as part of a hate crime hoax. As a result, Smollett is now being charged with felony disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.

On Monday, Smollett decided to take the stand to clear his name.

Earlier, The Daily Wire reported that “Chicago Police detectives said that Smollett appeared to be frustrated when he learned that the camera had been pointed in the wrong direction to pick up the attack, and initially refused to turn over his phone to law enforcement.”

In testimony, Smollett partly clarified why he did not initially give over his phone by stating that “he declined to give his phone to CPD in part because earlier he’d gotten a text from Don Lemon ‘saying he’d gotten a text from CPD saying they don’t believe me,’” according to Chicago Tribune Reporter Megan Crepeau.

Crepeau noted that Smollett said he also had a private photo on the device as well as contact information for “my boss, everybody, my mom, my family, my siblings, there are extremely important activists in my phone, extremely important executives and actors and actresses and singers.”

It is unclear what the text message from Don Lemon allegedly said.

In 2019, Lemon said that as a fellow gay black man he texted the actor “every day,” reported USA Today:

“Every day I say, ‘I know you think I’m annoying’ – I can show you a text – ‘I know you think I’m annoying you, but I just want to know that you’re OK, and if you need somebody you can talk to me, ’cause there’s not a lot of us out there,’ ” Lemon recalled. “Sometimes he responds; sometimes he doesn’t. He responds and says, ‘You are not annoying.’ “

When asked if he was afraid following the act of violence, Lemon said he had been living with angst. 

“I’ve had fear recently… because of the political environment,” he said. “I get death threats… I have security, all of these things that happened. Listen, we’ve always been divided ideologically, but there’s something different going on now.”

The trial is ongoing and additional reporting will follow.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Jussie Smollett Says He Didn’t Hand Over Phone Because Don Lemon Texted That Police Didn’t Believe Him