Jussie Smollett Arrested for Allegedly Making Up Hate-Crime Attack
“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested for allegedly filing a false police report claiming he was the victim of a hate-crime attack in Chicago, a police spokesman said early Thursday.
Smollett was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct for the allegedly false report he made with Chicago police on Jan. 29, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney office. In it he claimed he was assaulted by two masked men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs.
The actor, 36, who is black and gay, also said his attackers poured what he believed was bleach over him and put a noose around his neck.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Smollett was in the custody of detectives, who had earlier contacted Smollett’s legal team “to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.” He could face probation or up to three years in prison if convicted, a Cook County State’s Attorney office spokeswoman told NBC Chicago.
The actor is due in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The announcement of charges on Wednesday night came after Smollett’s attorneys talked with prosecutors in the morning, according to police.
In a statement released after Smollett was charged, his attorneys said he “enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked.”
“Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense,” the statement from attorneys Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said.
Meanwhile, the top prosecutor in the Chicago area, Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, has recused herself from the case.
The state’s attorney stepped away from the matter because she had “had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department,” a spokesperson for the office said.
Foxx’s first assistant prosecutor, Joe Magats, will handle the case.
Police investigated the reported attack as a “possible hate crime,” and some celebrities, including “Empire” cast members, and gay-rights advocates flocked to social media to express their support for Smollett.
But some other social media users began to question his claims when police said they were not able to find video of the incident after going through a plethora of footage from many surveillance cameras in the affluent Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, where the attack allegedly occurred.
Guglielmi told NBC News that the investigation into the alleged attack has demanded “considerable” police resources. He said that at one point the department had 12 detectives scouring surveillance videos.
Earlier on Wednesday, CBS Chicago obtained footage which appeared to show the two brothers buying materials, including ski masks, that had allegedly been worn by the actor’s attackers.
The brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, left the US after the alleged attack and were arrested on their return last week. They were later released and are said to be co-operating with the investigation.
One of the brothers is Smollett’s personal trainer and both have worked as extras on Empire.
I tracked down surveillance of the Osundairo’s buying supplies before “attack”
Sources say Jussie Smollet told brothers what to buy.
Countless phone calls placed for this.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 20, 2019
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