“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested for allegedly filing a fake police report claiming he was the victim of a hate crime attack in Chicago, a spokesman for the police said on Thursday.
Smollett was indicted on Wednesday for criminal disorder for the allegedly false report he made on January 29 at the Chicago police, according to the Attorney’s Office of the Cook County State. In it he claimed that he was attacked by two masked men who raced racist and homophobic lies.
The actor, 36, who is black and gay, also said that his attackers were what he believed bleached about him and put a noose around his neck.
The Chicago Police Department spokesperson, Anthony Guglielmi, said that Smollett was in custody with detectives who had previously contacted the Smollett legal team “to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.” He could get a probation or up to three years in prison if convicted, told the spokeswoman from the Cook County State office at NBC Chicago.
The actor was convicted in court for a hearing at 1.30 pm. CT Thursday.
The announcement of charges on Wednesday night came after Smollett’s lawyers had talked to prosecutors in the morning, according to the police.
In a statement released after Smollett was charged, his lawyers said he “enjoys the presumption of innocence, especially when there has been an investigation like this where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked.”
“Given these circumstances, we plan to conduct a thorough investigation and set up an aggressive defense,” according to the statement of lawyers Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson.
Meanwhile, the highest prosecutor in Chicago, Cook County State Kimberly Foxx, has withdrawn from the case.
The state lawyer quit the case because she had “had discussions with a relative of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and made a connection with the Chicago Police Department possible,” said a spokesperson for the office.
Foxx’s first assistant prosecutor, Joe Magats, will handle the case.
The police investigated the reported attack as a “possible hate crime”, and some celebrities, including cast members from the “empire”, and supporters of gay rights flocked to social media to express their support to Smollett.
But some other social media users began to question his claims when the police said they could not find a video of the incident after they had gone through an abundance of images of many surveillance cameras in Chicago’s affluent Streeterville neighborhood, where the attack reportedly took place.
Guglielmi told NBC News that the investigation into the alleged attack demanded “substantial” police resources. He said that at a certain point in the department 12 detectives are scanning surveillance videos.
On January 30, the police released photos of a security camera near where Smollett said he was attacked with two men who were, according to the police, “potential interested parties.”
The two men were taken into custody and interrogated on 13 February. They were released two days later, on Friday, without charge. The police said the two, brothers, were no longer suspects in the case and cooperated with the probe.
On Saturday, a police source said the probe had shifted to the question of whether the actor had paid the two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, to commit an attack. Researchers had discovered that the brothers had bought the rope that was used in the alleged attack.
Guglielmi then said that researchers wanted another interview with Smollett.