Jussie Smollett’s legal team asks for emergency release from jail as family shares threatening call

Jussie Smollett’s legal counsel has asked for the actor’s immediate release from jail, claiming that every second he remains behind bars, he risks being harmed.

On Thursday (10 March), the former Empire star was handed a 150-day prison sentence for “selfishly, arrogantly and narcissistically” staging a hate crime hoax that the judge said had “destroyed his life” and was designed solely to satisfy his “craving” for attention.

Smollett was accused of lying to city police about a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago in the early hours of 29 January 2019 by masked MAGA supporters.

According to Rolling Stone, Smollett’s lawyers claimed one of his siblings, also registered as his emergency jail contact, received a threatening call to hurt the actor.

“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],’” a man says in a video of the call shared by the convicted actor’s legal team on Monday (14 March).

The threat appeared to echo a 1997 police brutality case against Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Police officer Justin Volpe had pleaded guilty in the case to using a wooden stick to sodomise Louima in a police station lavatory after arresting him for disorderly conduct outside a nightclub.

Actor Jussie Smollett speaks to Judge James Linn after his sentence is read at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, in Chicago, Illinois

(via REUTERS)

Smollett’s legal team also argued that the actor has been receiving “vicious threats” on social media which “no doubt reflects the hatred and wish for physical harm toward Smollett which he may experience during incarceration.”

According to TMZ, the lawyers have submitted a sworn affidavit from a doctor which claims that Smollett has a compromised immune system and is at a higher risk of catching Covid-19.

Earlier this week, Smollett’s family said he has been put in a psychiatric ward and considered a suicide risk, despite being mentally sound.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office did not directly answer The Independent’s questions about whether Smollett was under mental health watch, though it said in a statement that he was not in solitary confinement, but was being held “under direct observation at all times” in his own cell.

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