Empire actor Jussie Smollett welled up in his first interview since his alleged attack last Month. The sit-down, conducted by ABC News’ Robin Roberts, is slated to air Thursday morning.
The interview comes after the 36-year-old actor said he redacted some information from his phone before giving it to Chicago police investigating a reported assault in order to protect the privacy of contacts and people who are not relevant to the attack.
Smollett’s representatives issued a statement a day after police said the heavily redacted phone records he turned over to detectives this week were insufficient for a criminal investigation.
The statement is the latest in a back-and-forth between Smollett and police since he reported the attack in downtown Chicago on January 29. Police have made no arrests and said they have found no surveillance video that shows the attack. They have released video of two people in the area at the time who they said were persons of interest.
“Jussie is the victim here, which has been stated by the Superintendent of Police,” the statement said. “Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police.”
However, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Monday that the phone records turned over by Smollett are in a heavily redacted document file and the records from the manager Smollett says he was talking to when the attack occurred were a screenshot of phone calls. He says the records aren’t sufficient for an investigation. “We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation however the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted,” Guglielmi said. “Detectives may be following up with him to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline.”
Smollett’s statement said he had good reasons for turning over limited information.
“Any redacted information was intended to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals not relevant to the attack,” his statement said.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told police that his attackers doused him with an unknown chemical substance, shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him before and looped a thin rope tied like a noose around his neck. Smollett also told detectives that before they ran off, the attackers yelled “This is MAGA country, ” a reference to the “Make America Great Again” slogan President Donald Trump uses.
Smollett and his family have insisted that he has been truthful about the attack and his story has not changed since it happened. “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” the actor said in a statement to ESSENCE magazine. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
Police have collected video surveillance footage from cameras in the downtown area and have also extended their search to stores in the area in the hopes of gathering evidence on who might have purchased the rope.
Days after the story broke, Smollett gave a concert at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, telling the crowd that if he did not perform, it would be a victory for the assailants. “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let the motherfuckers win,” he said as concert-goers which included Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and filmmaker Lee Daniels looked on. “I have so many words on my heart. The most important thing I have to say is thank you so much and that I’m okay,” he said. “I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to. And I’m gonna stand strong with y’all. l will always stand for love. I will never stand for anything other than that. Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love. And I hope that you all will stand with me.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.