CHICAGO – The defense at Jussie Smollett’s trial on Tuesday grilled a city police detective over a key piece of evidence that was recovered by a Post reporter.
A hot sauce bottle with the odor of bleach was found by the reporter more than a week after an alleged attack on Jan. 29, 2019, where the “Empire” star claimed two men splashed him with the chemical and hurled racist and homophobic slurs.
Smollett’s attorney Nenye Uche asked city police Detective Michael Theis, one of the lead investigators in the case if the hot sauce bottle had contained the bleach. The detective replied yes, and then responded that police hadn’t found the evidence.
“This was an investigation you were taking seriously, correct?” Uche said.
“Yes,” Theis replied.
“It was a journalist who found it?” Uche asked.
“Yes,” the detective answered.
The prosecution objected to follow-up questions about whether The Post reporter was yelled at when she notified Chicago cops and whether officers “were upset she found the bottle.”
“The journalist found the bottle because nobody looked for it!” Uche said, eliciting another objection.
Judge James Linn sustained the objections. Uche rested his case and the jury then broke.
Smollett is accused of faking the attack with Nigerian brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, while the defense claims the actor really was the victim of a hate crime at the hands of the pair.
The actor had told cops two Donald Trump-loving men beat him up and put a noose around his neck. A container for the bleach was not initially recovered by investigators, but The Post reporter found the hot sauce bottle nine days after the alleged attack, on Feb. 7.
Finding the bottle had an odor like bleach or chlorine, she notified police.
“Are you trying to do our job?” one detective snapped when The Post called police to alert them to the possible evidence. The brothers, who said they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack, allegedly admitted to police that the hot sauce bottle was used to fill with bleach and poured onto the actor.