Two weeks after he reported being attacked in Streeterville, representatives for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Tuesday to reiterate that “Jussie is the victim here.”
“Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible,” Chris Bastardi, a spokesman for Smollett, said in an emailed statement. “Superintendent [Eddie] Johnson has been clear from day one that Jussie is a victim. We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie’s attackers and bring them to justice.”
The statement from Smollett’s camp came the same day that Chicago Police said the phone records that the actor had turned over were “insufficient for a criminal investigation.”
According to the department, Smollett on Monday gave police “limited and redacted” phone records from the early hours of Jan. 29 — the day he reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
Smollett has told police that he was walking in the 300 block of East North Water Street about 2 a.m. when two people walked up to him, yelled slurs, hit him in the face, poured a substance — suspected to be bleach — on him and put a “thin, light rope” around his neck.
Smollett initially was “reluctant” to call police because of the attention he would generate as a public figure, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi previously said. But Smollett’s manager eventually called at 2:42 a.m. that morning.
The actor said he was on the phone with his manager when he was confronted. His manager has said that he could hear the attack over the phone and was able to hear the phrase “MAGA country” — the acronym for President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Bastardi said Tuesday that the phone records were redacted before they were given to police in order “to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals not relevant to the attack.”
Tuesday, Guglielmi said that CPD detectives would soon be in touch with Smollett to gather more information.
Investigators have pored over surveillance footage from the neighborhood, but have yet to recover any images of the reported attack — which became national news in a matter of hours and spurred Congressman Bobby Rush to write to the director of the FBI to ask him to open a hate crime investigation.
Johnson earlier this month said that Smollett has been cooperative with detectives, and that the department is making progress in its investigation.
“We have no reason to think he’s not being genuine with us,” Johnson said. “The allegations that are described to us are horrendous, horrible and quite frankly cowardly. He is a victim, and we treat him like a victim.”