Investigative reporter Tisha Thompson spent months uncovering the details of University of Rochester football player Niko Kollias’ abduction and brutal beating. This Sunday on E:60 (9 a.m. ET), Thompson sits with Kollias for his first television interview since the December 2015 attack and reveals never-before-seen video from the torture.
According to Thompson, one of the attackers recorded video on his cellphone which he had since deleted, but police were able to recover it.
“What stays with me is something the prosecutor said: The video is taken within the first three hours of 40 hours of torture,” said Thompson. “And it’s only 30 seconds; there’s so much more they went through.”
In addition to the cell phone video, Thompson was able to obtain surveillance video from a previous attack that involved University of Rochester football teammate and star linebacker Isaiah Smith. Unlike Kollias, however, Smith was responsible for the attacks that took place on a group of drug dealers.
“The surveillance video of the hammer attack was a lot of work [to get]. I was able to obtain that video from the prosecutors because it was part of the evidence. There were 14 surveillance cameras watching where the hammer attacks took place,” she said. “I actually sat in the Around the Horn offices in Washington D.C., watching hours of surveillance video, piecing together who was who.”
The biggest piece of evidence that Thompson found came about after searching through a file of court documents.
“At about 40 pages in, I saw it. It said $15,000 bond and it said ‘Isaiah Smith.’ Then I see the signature, ‘Dan Kyle,’ and coach listed under profession and then employer University of Rochester,” Thompson said. “I looked up because I thought, ‘Do people realize what I have here?’”
Thompson says that document was so important because it demonstrated what Kollias talked about in his interview with her, that he felt like coaches were giving Smith preferential treatment.
“When I got that document I thought, ‘This really is a major arch in the story. Isaiah Smith plays a really important role. It’s about more than these two kids that were kidnapped and tortured and Niko’s incredible story. It’s also why? How did it happen? What was the culture of the university that in Niko’s mind allowed it to happen? So that was a big piece of paper, it was right there in the public record just buried.”
Thompson has reported on many investigations but says that this was the most disturbing. This Sunday, Kollias will share his story with Thompson for the first time on television.