Sunday, 14th July 2024

Jussie Smollett charged for allegedly filing a false report

The Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report when he said he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack in downtown Chicago late last month

Sunday, 7th July 2024

The Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report when he said he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack in downtown Chicago late last month, Chicago police said on Wednesday.

The police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said prosecutors charged Smollett with felony disorderly conduct, an offence that could carry one to three years in prison and force the actor to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of the beating. Authorities were trying to get in touch with Smollett’s attorneys to “negotiate a reasonable surrender”, Guglielmi said.

Lawyers for Smollett said they intended to conduct a thorough investigation and mount an aggressive defence. “Like any other citizen, 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,” Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement.

Smollett alleged two masked men abused him with racist and homophobic slurs before beating him up early on 29 January. Smollett, who is black and gay, said the men then looped a rope around his neck.

But since then details in the case have emerged that have cast doubt on his reported version of events.

Earlier on Wednesday, Guglielmi had announced investigators officially considered the actor a suspect in the case. “Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by Chicago police for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony),” he tweeted.

Guglielmi added that detectives and two brothers who were earlier deemed suspects in the attack were testifying before a grand jury.

Smollett had told police he was attacked while getting a sandwich around 2 am near his home in downtown Chicago. He said the men shouted: “This is Maga country,” an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Smollett also said the attackers poured some kind of chemical on him.

Police looked through hours of video surveillance from the area but found no footage of an attack.

Investigators did find and release images of two people they said they wanted to question. And last week, police picked up the two brothers at Chicago’s O’Hare airport as they returned from Nigeria and questioned them about the attack. They also searched the apartment where the men live.

The men, who had been held for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett, were released Friday. Guglielmi said the next day that information police received from the men “has, in fact, shifted the trajectory of the investigation”.