Chicago law enforcement officials on Monday released nearly 1,200 files from the Jussie Smollett case, including video footage, thousands of pages of documents, arrest reports and handwritten notes from police regarding an assault on the actor that authorities accuse him of orchestrating.
Per a Freedom of Information Act request, officials released more than 90 hours of video related to the racist and homophobic attack Smollett said happened on a street near his Chicago apartment in the early morning hours of Jan. 29.
A police body camera video shows officers arriving about 40 minutes later at Smollett’s apartment, where he was still wearing a noose he said was placed around his neck by his attackers. Smollett’s face is blurred in the video, as he was still considered a victim at the time.
Most of the released footage is from surveillance cameras in the area, though none captured the incident.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, insists that he was truthful in claiming that two masked men assaulted him with the noose and a chemical liquid while yelling homophobic slurs and “this is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “make America great again” campaign slogan.
But two brothers affiliated with the former “Empire” actor told authorities they were paid by him to stage the attack, and Smollett was charged a month later with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report.
Over the objections of the city police department, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office ultimately dropped all charges against Smollett, who maintains his innocence. The FBI reportedly will investigate why the charges were dropped, and the city has sued him for reimbursement of the $130,000 it spent on the case.
A special prosecutor will also probe why Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx declined to pursue the case and whether Smollett should be charged again.
Additionally, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, the two brothers claiming Smollett staged the attack, are suing the actor’s attorneys for defamation.