CHICAGO – Jussie Smollett, annoyed at his salary and looking for publicity, made a fake attack on himself for a week after he wrote himself a threatening letter. Police in Chicago said Thursday that the actor had been charged with a false police report over a criminal charge.
The Chicago Police Superintendent, Eddie T. Johnson, who was visibly angry at a morning press conference, said Mr. Smollett had taken advantage of the pain and anger of racism and used up resources that could be used to investigate others in which people actually suffered.
"I only wish that the families of gun violence in this city had attracted so much attention," he said, citing the news media.
Superintendent Johnson refused to explain why the investigators believe that now Mr. Smollett had also played the lead role in sending a threatening letter he had received. The letter that arrived a week before the reported attack contained a harmless white powder and a sketch of what appeared to be a man being hanged. According to Smollett, the return address was "MAGA", a reference to a slogan from President Trump's campaign.
Superintendent Johnson referred further comments to the letter to F.BI examining this part of the case. The agency declined to comment.
The Superintendent seemed particularly annoyed that Mr. Smollett had arranged a fake attack that closed a noose around his neck.
"Why would anyone – especially an African-American man – use the symbolism of a sling to make false accusations? ", asked he. "How could anyone look at the hate and suffering associated with this symbol and see a way to manipulate that symbol to promote their own public profile?"
A representative of Mr. Smollett did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. The actor who surrendered to the authorities on Thursday morning claimed that the attack had happened and that he had done nothing wrong. He is scheduled to appear on an afternoon bail against the disorderly indictment for abuse of office, which is sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison.
After his capture, the reversal of public opinion for Mr. Smollett was swift and damaging. The report of the attack had sparked national support, including presidential Democrats and President Trump, who described the incident as "" terrible.
On Thursday, celebrities, including Michael B. Jordan and Tracee Ellis Ross, who had originally assisted Mr. Smollett, began canceling his social media posts following the attack.
Fox, the network broadcasting "Empire," released a statement on Thursday saying it evaluated the situation and options of the network. "We understand the seriousness of the matter and we respect it legal process, "said the statement.
Mr Smollett's salary is not publicly known, but it was not immediately apparent that he had had clashes with executives of Fox who were only released on Wednesday had made a statement that supported the actor, who called a "consummate professional", very much.
At their press conference, the police officers revealed much of what they had discovered about the reported attack. Mr. Smollett, black and openly gay, had told the police that two masked men had attacked him on January 29 at about 2 am on the 300 block of East Lower North Water Street in downtown Chicago. He said his assailants made homophobic and racial insults against him, put a rope around his neck, and poured a chemical on him. Mr. Smollett said the attack happened after he picked up food.
A detective commander, Edward Wodnicki, said at the press conference that the investigators had interviewed Mr. Smollett at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and found scratches on his face. some bruising, but no serious injuries.
Investigators cited the case as a possible hate crime, but had difficulty finding evidence that matched Mr. Smollett's report. The attack was not visible on surveillance cameras, and there were no witnesses.
Investigators presented a surveillance picture of two men (19459013) a few days after their investigation, who were believed to be potential interviewees, now known as two brothers who said they helped with a fake one Attack.
The police said they found the brothers on the basis of surveillance material in which they took a taxi from the area of the reported attack. Investigators tracked the cab, interviewed the driver and identified the passengers as Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, two brothers and co-workers of Mr. Smollett.
One had worked as an "extra" and Mr. Smollett later confirmed he had paid money for one of them to train him for a music video.
The men flew to Nigeria shortly after the incident, police said, phoning Mr. Smollett during their absence. On their return to Chicago on 13 February, they were picked up by the investigators and detained for two days.
Commander Wodnicki said that a lawyer of the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, came to him and said, "You really have to talk to him these men. I will allow them to give you a video interview with us and we will let you hear their story. They are not perpetrators. They are victims. "
The men claimed to be paid to participate in the reported robbery, investigators said. While the brothers seemed to have beaten Mr. Smollett, Superintendent Johnson said, "As far as we can tell, the scratches and bruises you saw in his face were most likely self-inflicted."
After the interview with the brothers The detectives released them without charge as they searched for further evidence to confirm their account. Superintendent Johnson said on Thursday about this decision, "Mr. Smollett staged this crime. They became cooperative witnesses. "
Almost from the beginning, there was a degree of skepticism about Mr. Smollett's report. It grew over time, although the police insisted for weeks that the actor was considered a victim. Mr. Smollett confirmed the suspicion in his first public statement about the incident on February 1, when he said through his publicist: "I work with government agencies and was 100 percent factual and consistent at every level. Despite my frustrations and my deep concern about certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations, I still believe that justice is at stake. "
In an interview broadcast on February 14," Good Morning America, "Mr. Smollett said," It feels like I said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel that the doubters would have supported me more.
This kind of appeal to public sympathy seemed to annoy Superintendent Johnson in particular.
"Absolute justice would be an excuse for this city that smeared it," he said at the press conference. "Admit what he has done and then be human enough to offer what he should offer in terms of all the resources put into these funds."