Chicago police arrested “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly falsely claiming he was attacked. Police said he made up the hoax because he was “dissatisfied with his salary,” CBS Chicago reports.
Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly staging the attack, in which he claimed two men shouted racist and homophobic slurs. He turned himself in to police Thursday morning.
“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said at a news conference. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told police that he was attacked by two men who beat him and put a noose around his neck while shouting slurs.
Police say Smollett paid the two men, Ola and Abel Osundairo, $3,500 by check to stage the attack.
Police said the men punched Smollett during the attack but investigators believe that the scratches and bruises on the actor’s face were likely self-inflicted.
The two brothers were arrested last week but released without charges.
Police say Smollett also claimed to have received a threatening letter that said “MAGA” but appears to have written it himself.
The two brothers told police that Smollett orchestrated the attack because the letter did not get a “bigger reaction.”
Smollett faces probation to 1.5 years in prison if convicted, CBS Chicago reports.
The two brothers are not expected to be charged.
Chicago police chief rips Smollett:
Johnson slammed the actor’s actions at a press conference Thursday.
“I’m left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?” he said. “How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?”
“My concern is that hate crimes will now publicly be met with a level of skepticism that previously didn’t happen,” he added.
Smollett claims innocence:
Smollett’s attorneys released a statement vowing to fight the charges.
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett 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,” the statement said. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”