Updated 11:15 am
Empire actor Jussie Smollett said he is “strong” and is assisting Chicago authorities investigating an attack on him in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood earlier this week.
Smollett, who is black and gay, broke his public silence on the attack in a statement he sent to Essence, the magazine reported on Friday.
“Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” Smollett said in the statement. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger.”
Smollett also addressed comments in social media that have been skeptical of his account of the attack early Tuesday.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served,” the statement said.
On Thursday, the family of Jussie Smollett released a statement saying the reported attack on the black and gay Empire actor in downtown Chicago this week was a “hate crime” and they pushed back against any suggestion that he has been anything but honest with police investigators.
Smollett’s family issued a statement Thursday saying they believe he was the victim of an unprovoked “racial and homophobic hate crime” and that he has been forthright with the police, who are still searching for surveillance video of the attack. No arrests have been made.
“Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning. His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice,” the family said.
Smollett, who plays a gay character on the hit Fox TV show filmed in Chicago, hasn’t spoken publicly about the early Tuesday attack in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood. He told police that he was talking on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack, but both of them have declined to give investigators their phone records, the Chicago Tribune reported. Skeptics on social media have raised doubts about the attack.
Smollett told police that he was walking home from a Subway restaurant when the attack occurred. Detectives have recovered surveillance footage of his walk home, including video of him arriving at his apartment building with a rope around his neck, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Smollett told police that two masked men jumped him around 2 a.m. Tuesday. He said they punched him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing. Smollett’s manager called police about 40 minutes after Smollett got home, Guglielmi said. When officers arrived, the actor had cuts and scrapes on his face and the rope around his neck. Smollett later went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment.
Detectives are investigating the case as a possible hate crime, and they have watched hundreds of hours of footage from private and public surveillance cameras, but gaps remain and they still haven’t seen video of the attack, Guglielmi said.
On Thursday, police released grainy photos of two “people of interest” who were in the area when Smollett said he was attacked. The photos showing two men from a distance came from surveillance video. Investigators said they want to identify and talk to the men.
The Associated Press contributed.