Police release Jussie Smollett's mugshot after the star handed himself in
Earlier today, the Chicago Police Department released Jussie Smollett's mugshot following his arrest for allegedly lying to police about a hate crime he experienced.
The 36-year-old Empire star turned himself in at 5am local time, and is set to attend a bail hearing later this afternoon.
Barely three weeks ago, Smollett had been speaking to the police for a very different reason.
On January 29, the actor - who is gay - claimed that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack perpetrated by two white men. According to Smollett, the men assaulted him, poured an unknown liquid on him, hung a noose around his neck and said, "This is MAGA country," a reference to Donald Trump's presidential campaign slogan. The news spurred an outpouring of support, with Fox [the network that airs Empire] releasing an emotional statement on the matter:
"We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our ‘Empire’ family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own."
Now, however, it seems that the attack was pure fabrication.
at New York City Center on November 28, 2018 in New York City." width="850" height="450" /> Credit: Getty
As details about the case started to unfold, it became clear that not all of the pieces were adding up to Smollett's claims about what happened.
First of all, the perpetrators of the attack were discovered to be two black men: Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. What's more, they are known to have been previously acquainted with Smollett, and claim that they were paid $3,500 to carry out the so-called assault. The men were arrested last week, and released without being charged. The police say they have a check Smollett wrote to pay Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the media that Smollett orchestrated the attack because he was 'dissatisfied with his salary' on Empire. Johnson said Smollett chose to stage the assault after a threatening letter he sent to the set failed to attract attention. That letter read, "You will die black f**," with "MAGA" scrawled on the upper left corner. Johnson stated that the actor "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
The police investigation has lasted weeks, and used considerable time and resources. Detectives interviewed more than 100 individuals about the alleged attack, and reviewed hundreds of hours of footage from surveillance cameras. As they gathered new evidence, Smollett's claims began to unravel.
Smollett's attorneys issued a statement denying he played a role in the attack: "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. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."
Previously, the actor's lawyers vehemently denied claims the attack was staged. "As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the star's lawyers said last Saturday. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
Smollett has been charged with a filing a false police report, a felony, and could face three years in prison. The case is set to go before a grand jury next week.