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'They put a noose around his neck,' Jussie Smollett's manager says in newly released 911 audio reporting alleged attack

As he called 911 to report an attack on Jussie Smollett, the actor’s manager raised concern that the assailants had put a noose around Smollett’s neck, according to the recordings released by city officials Wednesday evening.

"I just think he's startled," the manager said of the “Empire” actor to the emergency dispatcher. “What’s really weird, ma’am, just because I’m scared. I don’t know what it is. They put a noose around his neck.”

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Smollett, who is African American and openly gay, created an international media firestorm in late January when he reported being the victim of an attack by two people shouting racist and homophobic slurs. Weeks later, he was criminally charged for allegedly staging the attack with the help of two brothers whom police said he agreed to pay $3,500. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office later abruptly dropped all charges against Smollett.

On Wednesday, Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications released two 911 calls made by Smollett’s manager, prompting police to respond to the actor’s Streeterville apartment in the 300 block of East North Water Street early in the morning on Jan. 29.

OEMC did not identify the 911 caller because of privacy restrictions, but the caller himself said in the recordings that he worked with Smollett. Cook County prosecutors have said Smollett’s manager called the police at 2:27 a.m.

In the first 911 call, lasting just over three minutes, the manager told the dispatcher he needed police to stop by the building near where the actor claimed he was attacked.

“I work with an artist. I don’t really want to say his name, but he states that … he went to Subway (sandwich shop) he was walking by, and some guys … jumped him or something like that,” the manager said. “And I just want to report it and make sure he’s all right.”

“OK, so, we’re just checking the well-being?” the dispatcher replied.

“Yeah,” the manager said, later telling the dispatcher he was waiting in the building’s lobby.

“He was cool. He didn’t want to call you guys,” the manager said of Smollett. “But I feel he needs to make a report.”

“OK, you can’t make the report for him,” the dispatcher explained. “Did he want to make a report?”

“He’s definitely going to make the report,” the manager said. “I’m going to make him make the report.”

The manager later explained to the dispatcher how he thought Smollett had been startled and noted the noose around the actor’s neck.

“You know, they didn’t do anything with it, but it’s around his neck,” the manager said in a baffled tone. “That’s really f----- up. Sorry for saying it like that.”

“And this is a well-known person?” the dispatcher asked.

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“Yes, it is,” the manager replied.

About 15 minutes later, Smollett’s manager made a second 911 call that lasted more than four minutes. He told another dispatcher he was still waiting for the police to arrive.

The manager wasn’t sure of the building’s address, even though the dispatcher insisted she needed it. There also appeared to be some miscommunication between the manager and the dispatcher about where police should respond, according to the call.

“Are you (on) Lower Water Street or Upper (Water Street)?” the dispatcher asked.

“Upper,” he replied.

The manager repeated why police needed to show up.

“The person I work for, my friend, he was just mugged on the street, and we just want to report it,” the manager told the dispatcher. “I guess he was jumped or something.”

Officers eventually met up with Smollett’s manager in the building’s lobby.

The release of the 911 calls comes after the Chicago Police Department and Cook County prosecutors made public thousands of pages of documents on the Smollett investigation after a judge ordered them unsealed.

The Smollett investigation has only grown in controversy since the felony charges against him were dropped by Cook County prosecutors in late March in exchange for the actor forfeiting his $10,000 bail to the city and performing community service.

Since then, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has faced fierce criticism over her office’s handling of the case, including calls for her resignation by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. A judge is scheduled to rule later this month on whether he will appoint a special prosecutor to look into whether Smollett received special treatment.

jgorner@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @jeremygorner

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