Jussie Smollett attack: Chicago Police cast doubt on his story

Nearly two weeks after Empire star Jussie Smollett claimed he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack, police have yet to identify any suspects — and some people in his expensive Chicago neighbourhood are growing sceptical, according to the New York Post.

“I don’t believe it happened the way he said it did,” said Agin Muhammad, who lives in the same swank high-rise building near the Navy Pier as Smollett.

“I’ve been in this neighbourhood five years. I don’t believe it, not around here … Half the people are gay and the other half are black.”

media_cameraJussie Smollett, who is openly gay, says two masked men attacked him early Tuesday in Chicago in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. Picture: AP

A patron at Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, about a block from the scene of the alleged Jan. 29 incident, said Smollett’s story “doesn’t really make sense.”

“It’s a lie, because Chicago is the most liberal city around,” said the man, who wouldn’t give his name. “They have cameras everywhere … Why can’t they find the attack?”

Police have said they found plenty of surveillance video, but none that captured the incident.

Meanwhile, Chicago investigators said on Sunday that Smollett has yet to turn over data from his mobile phone to verify that he was on the phone with his music manager, Brandon Moore, when he was allegedly attacked.

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media_cameraJussie Smollett says he was the victim of a hate crime near his apartment building but surveillance footage has not revealed the attack. Picture: Supplied

Moore has said he heard Smollett’s assailants shout a “racial slur” and the words “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to US President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

“We have no reason to doubt the statements, but for a criminal investigation, we need to independently confirm the phone records,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

“We offered to take the phone to download the data and he expressed he couldn’t be without his phone for several hours.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has said that Smollett, 36, was being treated as a crime victim, but would be held accountable if cops learn he filed a false report.

media_cameraSurveillance video shows two people of interest in an attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett but no actual attack. Picture: Chicago Police Department via AP

Smollett told cops he was confronted by two men, one wearing a black mask, who hurled gay and racist epithets at him, calling him “’Empire’ f — t n — r” while he was walking home shortly before 2am.

The assailants allegedly punched Smollett in the face, doused him with a liquid — believed to be bleach — and tied a rope around his neck in an underpass between the Sheraton and Loews Chicago hotels.

Last week, The Post traced Smollett’s likely route to the underpass from a 24-hour Subway sandwich shop where he bought a tuna sandwich and a salad.

media_cameraJussie Smollett performs onstage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood just two weeks after the alleged attack in Chicago. Picture: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for ABA

Near the foot of a stairwell to the Loews, The Post found an empty hot sauce bottle that was partially filled with a clear liquid that smelled like bleach.

The Post alerted police, who seized the bottle. Guglielmi said it was turned over to the FBI for analysis.

The FBI declined to comment.

This story first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.

Originally published as Doubt over ‘Empire’ star’s attack claims

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