Jussie Smollett: Police bodycam noose footage released

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Getty/Chicago Police/Reuters

Video recorded on a police bodycam from the night Jussie Smollett was allegedly attacked has been released.

The ex-Empire actor says he was punched in the face, had an “unknown chemical substance” poured on him and a rope wrapped around his neck in a racist and homophobic attack in January.

But Chicago Police say he staged the whole thing.

They’ve released footage from the night where Smollett appears to have the rope still around his neck.

Image copyright
Reuters/Chicago Police

Image caption

Frank Gatson – Jussie Smollett’s “creative director” – points out the rope in the police footage

The footage shows two police officers going to Smollett’s apartment building in Chicago at around 8:43 in the morning – almost seven hours after the alleged attack.

They are met by Frank Gatson, who introduces himself as Jussie Smollett’s “creative director”.

He tells the police: “I work with him. He is like a star, works on the show Empire. So I think he doesn’t want it to be a big deal.”

He adds that he’s emotional because the attackers put a makeshift noose around Jussie Smollett’s neck.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Frank Gatson and Jussie Smollett in 2016

Once the police get into the apartment, they see Smollett with a thin white rope around his neck.

One officer says: “Do you want to take it off or anything?”

Smollett replies: “Yeah I do, I just wanted you to see it.”

He takes it off and adds: “There’s bleach on me. They poured bleach on me.”

Shortly after, they ask the police to switch off their cameras.

The footage is part of hundreds of files released by Chicago Police from their investigation into the case.

Another video appears to show Abel and Ola Osundairo – who are accused of helping to stage the alleged attack – in a cab on the night the police were called.

Police say the two brothers were paid by Jussie Smollett to pose as the racist and homophobic attackers.

They were arrested two weeks later and started cooperating with the police. They say they helped stage the attack.

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Media captionChicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson: “Smollett dragged city’s reputation through mud”

Jussie Smollett was believed by police at first, but was then himself arrested about three weeks after the alleged attack.

He was charged with filing a false police report.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career”.

A judge said the “most vile” part of the incident was the use of a noose – which symbolises the historical racist hangings of black people in the US.

Smollett was suspended from Empire, and later it was confirmed he wouldn’t return for the show’s final season.

But about a month after he was arrested, all the charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped.

Illinois prosecutor Joe Magats, who decided to drop the charges, told CBS he still thought Smollett was guilty.

But he explained the charges were dropped because Jussie forfeited a $10,000 (£7,600) bond payment and carried out community service.

Then Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel called the decision “a whitewash of justice”.

Mr Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout the saga.

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Media captionThe two sides in Jussie Smollett case

Chicago Police still thought Smollett was guilty, even though the charges were all dropped.

On 29 March, they ordered him to pay $130,000 (£99,000) to cover the cost of police officers, including overtime worked on the case.

Two weeks later, after he had refused to pay, he was sued for “three times” that amount by the City of Chicago.

In April, Jussie Smollett’s legal team was sued for defamation by the Osundairo brothers – who said their reputations were damaged by the incident.

Smollett’s lawyers – Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian – described the lawsuit as “comical” and “ridiculous”.

Then, on 21 June, a Chicago judge ordered a special prosecutor to examine the handling of Smollett’s claim.

This sets up the possibility he could be criminally charged a second time, a police spokesman said.

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