Chicago police said Thursday that Jussie Smollett and his manager have not provided phone records that would help them investigate Smollett’s case.
Asked if the department was correct, a person close to Smollett told TheWrap: “There is a lot of misinformation out there.”
Smollett and his manager, Brandon Z. Moore, have told police that they were talking with each other on the phone when Smollett was attacked in Chicago early Tuesday. Smollett told police two men attacked him while yelling racial and homophobic slurs and referencing “MAGA,” according to officers. A police statement said chemicals were poured on the “Empire” star’s face, and a rope placed around his neck.
The Chicago Police Department said in a statement Thursday:
“Both the victim and the manager made independent statements to detectives that they were on the phone with one another during the alleged attack. CPD has no reason to doubt these claims. Detectives however were not able to independently verify the statements as cell phone records were not provided to investigators when asked. Therefore we are not able to confirm this.”
Moore did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Friday, an individual close to the situation told TheWrap that Smollett was never specifically asked by police to specifically hand over his phone records. Rather, they “casually asked if he wanted to turn over his phone,” which Smollett was not comfortable doing. Smollett’s team has since offered to hand over his phone records, the individual said.
On Thursday, Smollett’s family released a statement condemning the attack as “domestic terrorism.”
“In the early hours of Tuesday morning, our beloved son and brother, Jussie, was the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack,” the family said in a statement. “We want to be clear, this was a racial and homophobic hate crime. Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.”
The Smollett family condemned all hate crimes in their statement, calling for “radical love” and accountability for perpetrators.
“MAGA” refers to “Make America Great Again,” one of President Trump’s slogans. Asked about the Smollett attack on Thursday, Trump replied: “That I can tell you is horrible. It doesn’t get worse.”
On Wednesday, Chicago police released photos from a surveillance video showing “potential persons of interest” in the case.The photos, released Wednesday afternoon, show two silhouetted figures. Chicago police say they would like to question them because they were near the scene of the attack.
The case has brought an outpouring of love for Smollett and widespread condemnation of the attack. Some online have objected to the word “possible,” saying the hateful element of such a crime is obvious. But Chicago police officer Michelle Tannehill said police routinely use the word “possible” in cases when the an investigation is not yet complete.
Jon Levine contributed to this story.