Jussie Smollett, the black and gay “Empire” actor who said he was attacked in downtown Chicago this week, has refused to turn over his phone records to detectives.
The 36-year-old actor’s family, meanwhile, said the assault was a “hate crime” and they pushed back against any suggestion that Smollett was anything but honest with the police.
Smollett, who plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, hasn’t spoken publicly about the early Tuesday attack, though his representative said Wednesday that Smollett was recovering at home.
Smollett’s family issued a statement Thursday saying they believe he was the victim of an unprovoked “racial and homophobic hate crime” and that he has been forthright with the police, who are still searching for surveillance video of the attack.
“Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice,” the family said.
Detectives have recovered more surveillance footage of Smollett walking home from a Subway restaurant that morning, including video of him arriving at his apartment building with a rope around his neck, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. Police also asked for his cell phone records, but have been denied.
Smollett told police that two masked men jumped him on his walk home at around 2 a.m. Tuesday. He said they punched him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing. Smollett’s manager called police about 40 minutes after he got home, Guglielmi said. When officers arrived, the actor had cuts and scrapes on his face and the rope around his neck. Smollett later went to a hospital for treatment.
Detectives, who are investigating the case as a possible hate crime, have watched hundreds of hours of footage from private and public surveillance cameras, but gaps remain and they still haven’t seen video of the attack or men who match Smollett’s description of his assailants, Guglielmi said.
President Trump expressed sympathy for Smollett on Thursday.
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