Empire actor Jussie Smollett is refusing to turn over his cell phone or cell phone records to investigators, according to the Chicago police.
“The actor declined to share telephone records that could show he was speaking with his manager just as the alleged assault happened early Tuesday morning in Chicago,” a spokesman for the police told the far-left NBC News.
A source speaking to TMZ, however, says Smollett did not refuse to turn over his phone records and “is in the process of gathering them.” Smollett did, though, refuse to hand over his phone, saying he was “uncomfortable” doing so.
“A representative for the actor did not immediately return messages seeking comment about the cell phone and phone records,” adds NBC.
According to various news reports and police, Smollett says he was assaulted by two men as he returned home from a fast food restaurant in the heart of downtown Chicago at around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. Smollett claims the two men recognized him from his TV show and confronted him while hurling racial and homophobic slurs (Smollett is black and gay).
Smollett told police that during the assault the men poured bleach on him, said something about this being “MAGA country,” and tied a noose around his neck.
The phone records are important because they can verify a key part of Smollett’s story. The Empire star told police he was on the phone with his manager during the attack and the manager told police he heard the attack and someone exclaim, “This is MAGA country.”
“MAGA country” is a reference to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. The alleged assault is being investigated as a hate crime.
As of now, police say they have pored through countless hours of surveillance video and have no record of the assault.
Late Wednesday night, police did release grainy screenshots from surveillance video of two “persons of interest” who were near Smollett at around the same time the alleged attack took place.
At no time, though, are the persons of interest seen on the same video camera as Smollett, or even on the same side of the street. In fact, police have not even confirmed the timing of the video of the persons of interest, so we have no idea if they were seen in the area at the exact same time as Smollett or around the same time.
We also don’t know if the persons of interest are at any time seen running or hurrying away from the area, or if they disappear for the same 60 seconds Smollett does. Surveillance video of Smollett’s walk home loses track of him for 60 crucial seconds. The next time he is seen on video, according to police, is when he enters a condo building where a friend lives. Police say this video clearly shows a “rope” wrapped around Smollett’s neck “like a necktie.”
Smollett is seen on the video ignoring the building security guard. He enters the elevator and about 40 minutes later the police are called.
Police did observe scrapes on Smollett’s face and neck. He took himself to the hospital, where he was treated for the abrasions. There are conflicting reports about whether or not he suffered a cracked rib.
Still unexplained is why Smollett didn’t just show police the display from his phone that would verify the call with his manager. It makes sense he would not want to turn over his physical phone. But you can prove the time and date of your calls at a glimpse without going to the trouble to gather your phone records.