Chicago PD say 2 persons of interest in the alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett were only seen on the opposite side of the street in surveillance footage from the Streeterville neighborhood where the alleged attack occurred early Tuesday.
According to ABC affiliate ABC7, Smollett was seen on the opposite side of the street from the persons of interest about an hour after they were seen in the vicinity.
Smollett, 36, told police he was attacked by 2 masked men who beat him up and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him as he walked from a nearby Subway restaurant to his manager’s apartment around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
His music manager, Brandon Z. Moore, told police and Variety.com he heard the attack as he talked with Smollett by phone. Moore said he “clearly” heard the attackers shouting, “This is MAGA country.”
“I heard that clearly I heard the scuffle and I heard the racial slur,” Moore told Variety.
Police say they are unable to confirm Smollett and Moore’s stories because they refused to turn over their phone records to detectives. Investigators also dismissed initial reports that Smollett suffered a fractured rib.
Police still view Smollett as a victim of a hate crime.
According to ABC News journalist Stephanie Wash, Spt. Eddie Johnson told @ABC7Chicago the lack of video of the “cowardly” & “horrendous” attack of @JussieSmollett is not “highly unusual.” He added: Jussie Smollett is a victim. “We have no reason at this point to think he’s not being genuine with us.”
After poring over hundreds of hours of video footage in 3 days, police released 2 images from a surveillance camera that shows 2 shadowy figures walking down New Street near Illinois between 1:30 a.m. and 1:45 a.m.
The 2 persons of interest never crossed the street to the opposite side and they were not seen in the vicinity at the same time as the actor.
Police say Smollett walks out of a frame for about 60 seconds and reappears on another camera “wearing a rope like a neck tie” around his neck.
He calmly entered the condo high-rise where Moore lives, walked past the security desk and entered the elevator to Moore’s apartment. Moore called 911 about 40 minutes later.
When cops arrived at 2:42 a.m., Smollett was still wearing the thin rope looped around his neck. He asked cops to turn off their body cameras before giving his statement.
Authorities took a statement from Moore’s neighbor who claims she saw a suspicious “redneck” man with a rope loitering outside the high-rise on the night of the alleged attack.
But police say her description of the man differs significantly from Smollett’s description of the alleged attackers. There are also no signs of the man she described on any video footage in the area.
Social media users expressed doubts about Smollett’s story. An unofficial poll conducted by Sandrarose.com revealed 58% of Twitter users believe Smollett is being untruthful.
Smollett confirmed in an interview with CNN anchorman Don Lemon that the attack did happen.
The “Empire” star said he fought back, and is “shaken and angry” that something like this could happen.
Smollett’s family released a statement on Thursday condemning the alleged attack. They called Smollett “a warrior whose light can’t be dimmed” and they referred to the attackers as “domestic terrorists.”
On Wednesday, Smollett deleted several tweets in which he is highly critical of President Donald Trump.
In one deleted tweet, Smollett wrote: