Published: Fri, February 22, 2019
Entertaiment | By Paul Elliott

Empire actor Jussie Smollett arrested in Chicago over hate crime claim

Empire actor Jussie Smollett arrested in Chicago over hate crime claim

Jussie Smollett's legal team issued a defiant statement on Thursday night, saying the "Empire" actor feels betrayed by the justice system and hinting at a political motive for his prosecution.

Police say he also had sent a racist letter to himself at a Fox studio. Yesterday, the brothers gave evidence to a grand jury that they had been paid by Smollett to participate in the attack, leading to the actor being charged.

Detectives became suspicious about Smollett's story after speaking to two suspects - two brothers who are also black - who said Smollett paid them $3,500 (€3,088) to carry out the attack.

The announcement of the charges followed a flurry of activity in recent days, including lengthy police interviews of the brothers, a search of their home and their release after officers cleared them.

At press conference hours after the Empire actor was charged, Chicago Police Department Chief Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson abhorred him as a "troubled young man" who has "taken advantage" of racism to further his career.

Smollett was arrested early Thursday on a felony charge of filing a false police report.

It was an Uber mistake for Jussie Smollett's faked assault.

They are reportedly being treated as witnesses, after initially being held in custody.

Smollett, a 36-year-old black, openly gay actor on the hip-hop TV drama Empire, ignited a firestorm on social media by telling police that two apparent supporters of US President Donald Trump had struck him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach over him.

Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following his release
Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following his release

The state say they corroborated this with a call placed at 12:49am between Smollett and the two men.

As investigators probed into the case, they identified two brothers who apparently knew Smollett - one of whom had appeared as an extra on Empire - and who told police Smollett hired them to coordinate a false attack, The New York Times reports.

Following three weeks of mounting suspicions, Smollett was charged Wednesday with making a false police report, a charge that could bring up to three years in prison and force the actor, who is black and gay, to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a January 29 beating. On Wednesday, the lawyers had said they were conducting a thorough investigation to form an aggressive defense.

Near the end of the 48 hours in which police are allowed to detain potential suspects without charging them, the brothers "decided to confess to the entirety of what the plot was", Johnson said.

Smollett was charged by prosecutors, not the grand jury. On Thursday, he tweeted to Smollett: "What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and unsafe comments!?.MAGA".

Smollett had appeared on Good Morning America last week and said he was angry that some people questioned his story, and he suggested the disbelief might come from racial bias.

"Bogus police reports cause real harm".

"I'm also concerned about what this means moving forward for hate crimes", he said.

"I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention", he said.

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