On Friday, lawyers filed an emergency motion seeking Jussie Smollett’s release from an Illinois jail, claiming the actor is in danger and the target of online threats.
According to WGN, Smollett’s attorneys said his sibling has received racist, homophobic, and menacing calls since his phone number was listed at the jail as an emergency contact. Smollett’s legal team is asking a Cook County court to pause his 150-day sentence and grant bond.
According to Rolling Stone, Smollett’s family released a phone call in which a man is heard threatening to sodomize the actor. A spokesperson told the publication that the man called a dozen times on Friday with similar threats.
“I hope what they do to that guy in jail — here’s what they’re going to do, right. They’re going to take a broom handle and take that little [expletive], shove it in there, and he’s gonna go, ‘[shrieking sound],’” the man reportedly said.
The unidentified caller was apparently referencing the 1997 attack of Abner Louima in New York. Louima, a Haitian immigrant, suffered a perforated rectum and bladder when officer Justin Volpe sodomized him with a broomstick at a Brooklyn precinct. Volpe was sentenced in 1999 to more than 21 years for the attack, according to the New York Post.
Last week, a judge sentenced Smollett, 39, to 150 days in Cook County jail and 30 months of probation for fabricating a hate crime against himself in 2019. Smollett has maintained his innocence.
Smollett is currently in protective custody, at the request of his lawyers. Officials said the actor’s cell is being monitored at all times.
However, Smollett’s lawyers have claimed that protective custody is tantamount to solitary confinement — which could cause “extraordinary damage on his mental health.” They also said Smollett has a compromised immune system and possible exposure to COVID poses a “serious health risk,” Rolling Stone reported.
In a statement issued to the Chicago Tribune on Monday, Cook County police said that Smollett is housed in a unit for inmates requiring extra treatment for mental health issues. However, police noted that the area of the jail is also used for “enhanced monitoring.”
“It would be inaccurate and irresponsible to make any assumption about his mental or medical condition based on where he is currently housed,” the statement reads.
According to WGN, an appellate court judge has given prosecutors five days to respond to Smollett’s emergency motion. Smollett’s attorneys have also filed a motion of appeal regarding his conviction.
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[Featured image: Jussie Smollett/Cook County Jail]