By EMILY ZANOTTI
Wednesday morning, the Chicago Police Department fulfilled a Freedom of Information Act request from WGN News and CWB Chicago, and released complete but redacted files from the Jussie Smollett investigation — the last such documents that can be expected, according to CPD’s spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi.
The documents, first posted by CWB, show the progression of a police investigation that began on January 29th, when Smollett and his friend summoned Chicago Police to Smollett’s downtown apartment to file a police report, indicating that Smollett had been assaulted and battered while walking home from a local Subway sandwich shop.
You can find File #1 on CWB’s page here, and File #2 here. Both files are heavily redacted, and were apparently resubmitted to the Chicago Police Department on Tuesday, after the Cook County State’s Attorney dropped all charges against Smollett, apparently in anticipation of FOIA requests.
There are several items in CPD’s investigative files that have not appeared in prior reporting, including that, by late January, just days after Smollett reported the incident to Chicago Police, the police had shifted their investigation, reclassifying it from an “aggravated battery” to a “public peace violation” or false police report.
By January 31st, it appears that CPD detectives had requested surveillance footage from buildings surrounding Smollett’s residence, and had determined that it was likely Smollett had either orchestrated or fabricated the “hate crime” initially reported to police.
The files also catalog CPD’s interactions with the now-infamous Osundairo brothers — the two men Smollett allegedly hired to help him carry out the attack. CPD interviewed the Osundairo brothers several times, connecting the pair to the scene of the crime through a hot sauce bottle that one brother admitted he had filled with bleach, and then poured on Smollett during the attack. A New York Post reporter later found the hot sauce bottle while poking around the scene of the alleged crime.
The brothers also indicated that a $3500 check they’d received from Smollett was for more than just “training,” which they charged only $30 to $50 per hour for.
According to the reports, police investigators and prosecutors worked hard to keep developments of the case — particularly grand jury witnesses like the Osundairo brothers — out of the public eye, driving witnesses to and from courthouses outside of downtown Chicago, so that they could testify without triggering a media frenzy.
Perhaps most interestingly, the files show that the Chicago Police Department cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Smollett case as early as late January, as well. According to one of the files, the FBI requested — and received — a copy of a the results of a search warrant served on Smollett’s Apple iCloud account. The FBI is reportedly still conducting its own investigation into Smollett over a letter sent to Smollett at Fox Studios containing a “white powder” that turned out to be crushed Tylenol.
Although the files don’t provide much more in the way of damning evidence against Smollett, the circumstances surrounding their release are part of an interesting twist in the Smollett case. After the Cook County State’s Attorney decided to drop the 17 charges against Smollett, the court case was wiped off the books — a highly unusual move — and Smollett’s records were sealed.
According to CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, speaking to Chicago’s ABC news affiliate, Wednesday’s document release is the final release — all other documents pertinent to the investigation and case against Smollett are going under seal.
Initially, the order delivered on Tuesday was not read to apply to city or police records. An updated order, issued Wednesday morning, now covers all records pertinent to the Smollett case.
The Chicago Police have gone on the offensive against the prosecutor’s office following yesterday’s developments. In a tweet issued yesterday afternoon, Gugliemi took on Jussie Smollett’s proclamation of innocence, noting that “Chicago police detectives did an excellent investigation and their work was reaffirmed by an independent grand jury who brought 16 criminal counts. In our experience, innocent individuals don’t forget bond & perform community service in exchange for dropped charges.”
The Fraternal Order of Police — Chicago’s primary police union — has already delivered a request to the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago requesting that a federal investigaiton into the decision to clear Smollett of all charges.