CHICAGO – The defense at Jussie Smollett’s trial on Tuesday grilled a city police detective over a key piece of evidence found by a Post reporter.
A hot sauce bottle with the smell of bleach was found by the reporter more than a week after an alleged attack on January 29, 2019, in which the “Empire” star claimed that two men sprayed him with the chemical and threw racist and homophobic slander.
Smollett’s lawyer Nenye Uche asked police investigator Michael Theis, one of the case’s leading investigators, if a hot sauce bottle was used to contain the bleach. The detective answered yes and then replied that the police had not found the evidence.
“It was a study you took seriously, wasn’t it?” said Uche.
“Yes,” replied Theis.
“Was it a journalist who found it?” asked Uche.
“Yes,” replied the detective.
Prosecutors objected to follow-up questions about whether The Post reporter was yelled at when she notified Chicago police and whether officers “were upset that she found the bottle.”
“The journalist found the bottle because no one was looking for it!” said Uche, raising another objection.
Judge James Linn upheld the objections. Uche rested his case, and the jury then broke.
Smollett is accused of falsifying the attack with the Nigerian brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, while the defense claims that the actor was really the victim of a hate crime in the hands of the couple.
The actor had told police that two Donald Trump-loving men beat him and put a loop around his neck. A container for the bleach was initially not found by investigators, but The Post reporter found the hot sauce bottle nine days after the alleged attack, on February 7th.
When she found that the bottle smelled like bleach or chlorine, she notified police.
“Are you trying to do our job?” a detective snapped when The Post called police to warn them of the possible evidence. The brothers, who said they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack, admitted to police that the bottle of hot sauce was used to fill with bleach and poured on the actor, the Chicago Police Department said earlier.