Jussie Smollett’s hate crime case came to a end this past March, when the actor had all 16 felony accounts against him dropped. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were outraged. However, it appears the shock from the CPD may have been overdramatized — as were, it seems, many of the details of the story shared by CPD.
New revelations in the case come from hundreds of pages of investigative records that were released to the public by CPD on Thursday (May 30). The dump of documents comes a week after a judge ordered the records in Smollett’s hate crime case be unsealed. The documents reveal a number of inconsistences from previous reports, both by official statements from CPD and leaked information from unnamed sources within the department. While the newly-released information doesn't appear to contain any smoking guns exonerating Smollett, it does add a lot more credibility to his side of the story.
Here are just some of the inconsistencies revealed by the new documents:
- Chicago prosecutors reportedly told police a deal with Smollett was probable nearly a month before all charges against him were officially dropped. Meaning, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone in CPD, especially Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who appeared on shows from CNN to Good Morning America to expressing his anger at the decision.
- The Chicago Tribune reports that Risa Lanier, a Cook County prosecutor, told investigators “she believed the case would end with” Smollett “paying restitution and doing community service.” A month later, the charges were indeed dropped and Smollett did give up his $10,000 bond, but the “community service” portion of his deal apparently did not go down as reported at the time. “The State has confirmed that Mr. Smollett has engaged in volunteer service in the community and has also agreed to forfeit his bond in this case to the City of Chicago,” Lanier told Judge Steven Watkins in court, the documents show. “The State's motion at this time is to nolle the case. Based upon the nature of the case and the nature and character of the defendant we believe that this is the most just disposition.”
According to the new documents, Smollett’s community service was voluntary and part of his lifestyle, and not punitive or related to the charges against him. Investigators appeared to have mislead the public by asserting that the community service was a form of punishment.
- According to E! News’ investigation of the document dump, Smollett initially told investigators that one of his attackers during the hate crime attack was white. While the two men wore masks, according to Smollett, he noticed one was white through the eye holes, describing him as “pale.” Police used this as evidence that Smollett’s story was inconsistent when Olabinjo or Abimbola Osundairo, brothers of Nigerian descent who were friends of Smollett’s, were arrested as the perpetrators of the attack. In the unsealed documents, Anthony Moore, a security guard at the Sheraton hotel near the scene of the alleged attack, seemed to corroborate Smollett's account. He stated to investigators that he saw two guys in ski masks fleeing. According to Moore’s statement to police, the skin around the eyes of at least one of the guards appeared to be white.
- A separate witness also backed up Smollett and the concierge’s claims that at least one of the alleged attackers was white. Just days after the attack, an unidentified woman said she spotted a man outside of the apartment complex her and Smollett lived in. She described him as a “redneck” and “out of place.” TMZ reports that the woman “walked out of the building at 12:30 am Tuesday to take her dogs out and saw the man near the door, pacing between the parking garage and entrance, looking agitated and smoking a cigarette. She says, ‘He looked out of place.’ He was a white man with scruff on his face wearing a blue winter beanie, a blue zip-up sweatshirt with a hood and blue jeans that were too short, exposing ‘thick, grey hunting socks’ with camel-colored dress shoes.” The woman also says she saw another suspicious-looking man 300 feet away near another entrance of the apartment complex and described herself as “creeped out” by his presence. This witness account was included in the newly-released police documents.
- Another detail in the newly-released documents that seems to conflict with CPD’s public statements: the concierge at Smollett’s apartment building said in a statement that, immediately after the attack, Smollett told him, “I just got jumped.” Chicago PD said publicly that the concierge said nothing.
In April, Jussie’s brother JoJo penned a letter for BET and claimed the Chicago Police Department was running an unjust investigation.
“Like so many others, this entire process quickly devolved from a focus on him as a victim of assault, to him being falsely accused and held responsible for a crime that was perpetrated against him,” JoJo wrote. “To define this experience as unjust would be an understatement.”
The docu-dump could reveal more about the Jussie Smollett case as it continues to be looked over and understood. For now, it’s safe to say that there’s more to this case than meets the eye.