, USA TODAY Published 9:16 a.m. ET Feb. 23, 2019 | Updated 11:44 p.m. ET Feb. 23, 2019

CHICAGO – Dozens of private and city-owned security cameras played a critical role in helping investigators unravel “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s alleged hoax attack, police and prosecutors say.

Officials say investigators were suspicious of Smollett from the outset.

Officers were dispatched to investigate a brutal racist, homophobic attack on Smollett early on the morning of Jan. 29. During the attack, he said, two men threw a rope around his neck, in the manner of a noose.

When officers arrived at the actor’s apartment in Chicago’s swanky Streeterville neighborhood about 40 minutes after the alleged beating, one detail caught their eye.

“Chicago Police Officers observed that Smollett had a rope draped around his neck,” said Risa Lanier, a Cook County State’s Attorney. “This was captured on police body worn camera. Seconds later, Smollett asked police to shut off the cameras.”

Stillpolice continued for nearly three weeks to publicly identify Smollett as a victim of a possible hate crime.