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The Latest: Family says attack on actor was hate crime

January 31, 2019
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FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett arrives at the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. Smollett, who alleges he was the victim of a brutal racial and homophobic attack, is a former child star who grew up to become a champion of LGBT rights and one of the few actors to play a black gay character on primetime TV. His breakthrough came aboard the hip-hop drama “Empire,” playing Jamal Lyon, a talented R&B singer struggling to earn his father’s approval and find his place in his dad's music empire. It became one of the biggest network shows to star a gay black character. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett (all times local)

3:30 p.m.

The family of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett says that they have no doubt that the actor is a victim of a “racial and homophobic hate crime.”

In a statement released via one of Smollett’s representatives, the family seems to dispute any suggestion that Smollett wasn’t truthful with police when he reported that two men in masks beat him early Tuesday, hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him, threw an undetermined chemical on him and looped a rope around his neck. The family says Smollett has told police “everything” and that his account of what happened has “never changed.”

Such doubts have been expressed online as police have reported that they have not yet located any surveillance video of the attack and that Smollett declined to turn over phone records that would show he was talking to his agent on the phone at the time of the attack, as he told detectives. Police have said that Smollett has been cooperative.

Police continued to gather and analyze surveillance video Thursday and reported that video from Smollett’s apartment building shows that he had a thin rope around his neck when he arrived after he says he was beaten up.

Chicago police say surveillance cameras have captured images of people of interest in an attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett. (Jan. 30)
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1 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s seen the reports about the racially-charged attack in Chicago on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett and described what happened as “horrible.”

Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that he saw the story the night before and that, “It doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.” The president’s Trump International Hotel & Tower is in the general area where the attack took place.

Smollett, who is gay and black, told police that two masked men attacked him early Tuesday as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He says they beat him, hurled racial and homophobic insults at him, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing.

Police are gathering and reviewing video from scores of surveillance cameras in the area. They have recovered video that shows Smollett arriving home with a rope around his neck, but they have not found video of the attack itself.

They have also released photographs from videos of two people walking in the area about the time of the attack in the hopes that those people can be located and provide them more information about what happened.

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11:45 a.m.

A Chicago police spokesman says surveillance video shows that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett had a rope around his neck as he walked into his apartment building the night he reported he was attacked by two masked men.

Anthony Guglielmi (goo-lee-EHL’-mee) said Thursday that police still haven’t recovered any surveillance video of the early Tuesday attack, but that the building’s security footage shows Smollett arrived home wearing the rope minutes after he says it occurred.

Smollett, who is gay and black, says two men beat him, hurled racial and homophobic insults at him, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and looped the rope around his neck before fleeing.

Police want to talk to two people seen on surveillance video walking in that section of downtown Chicago at the time of the attack. They have released their images to the media in the hopes that someone will recognize them or they themselves will come forward.

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9:17 a.m.

Chicago police have recovered more surveillance footage of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking before and after he says he was attacked by two masked men, but they haven’t found video of the attack.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi (goo-lee-EHL’-mee) also said Thursday that Smollett and his manager say they were talking on the phone when he was attacked at 2 a.m. Tuesday, but that Smollett has declined to hand his phone records to police.

Police released images Wednesday of two people who were walking in the area around that time Tuesday, but Guglielmi stresses that they are not considered suspects and are being sought because they were in the vicinity.

Smollett, who is gay and black, says two men beat him, hurled racial and homophobic insults at him, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing.