Wednesday morning at 9:30, a judge from Cook County, Illinois issued a gag order for the Chicago Police Department, requiring them to stop talking about or distributing documents involved with Jussie Smollett’s investigation. Nevertheless, the police department released 61 pages of reports and documentation before the gag issue was ordered. Smollett, who claimed that he was the victim of a hate crime on January 29th, was indicted on 16 different counts related to making a false police report. In an odd turn of events, the charges were suddenly dropped on Tuesday.
Statements that are written in police reports just simply note that the police officers make during their investigation and they’re not usually used as evidence. On the other hand, any actual evidence collected by the police officers is now under the gag order. While their reports aren’t used as evidence, they are a good way to measure where things are going with the case. According to police reports, Smollett is accused of “making false reports to police claiming to be the victim of an Aggravated Battery.” It also said that it was unclear as to what Smollett’s motive was.
Chicago police then subpoenaed video footage from a Sheraton Hotel, which allowed them to verify the accurate time. According to the video, the time of the footage for 8:51 p.m. was four minutes and 30 seconds behind the actual time. Police also sent a search warrant pertaining to Smollett’s iCloud account to an FBI analyst.
Deeper into the investigation, the Chicago police questioned two witnesses about when and where they had gotten a $100 bill from Smollett. The witnesses then explained that the money was “provided to them to buy rope, a mask, and a hat for this incident.”
One of the witnesses stated that he was “pretty sure he received the $100 bill from SMOLLETT on 25-JAN-2019.” The witness continued by saying that he wasn’t sure about when or where he had actually used the bill from Smollett, but he remembered buying the rope, hat, and mask with other “loose cash.” The witness claims that he didn’t keep any of the receipts. One of the witnesses explained that he was “pretty sure” that he had received a check from Smollett on January 27th in the amount of $3,500, which could be seen on a deposit slip obtained by police. Both of the witnesses stated that they left the clothes that they were wearing in another place, which was redacted from the documents.
While being questioned, one of the witnesses stated that he didn’t have his phone with him on Jan. 25 or 27, but the other witness wasn’t sure if he had his phone with him at all. Both of the witnesses have continuously denied having anything to do with the letter that Smollett received on January 22. When one of the witnesses was shown a bottle of El Yucateco hot sauce that was recovered from the scene, he stated that it was the bottle that he filled with bleach and poured on top of Smollett.
A witness identified a photo of a vehicle as the car that Smollett drove. The witness also confirmed that there was a witness in the passenger seat, as well. The witnesses claimed that Smollett picked them up at their house and drove them Lake Shore Drive, the area where the attack took place. One of the witnesses told police that he was actually a trainer and Smollett was one of his clients.
On February 19th, Chicago police recovered a photocopy of a check written by Smollett for $3,500. That same day, the grand jury that was supposed to convene was postponed because Smollett and his attorney asked to meet with the state attorney of Cook County on February 20 to talk about new information. Once the grand jury convened, the Chicago police were informed that the State Attorney’s Office was prepared to file felony charges against Smollett.
Chicago police gave their reason for reclassification on March 19 by saying: “Investigation revealed that a plan formulated and put into play by Smollett to conduct a staged incident where Smollett was beaten by (redacted) and (redacted) posing as persons other than themselves.”
After the police received a subpoena, they were able to get their hands on video footage from Orso’s restaurant that showed a car that “looked to be consistent with Sun Cab #904.” They also obtained footage from an unknown store that showed two different subjects paying with cash for “a facemask, knit caps, gloves, a red hat, and sunglasses.”