Police: Jussie Smollet a suspect in setting up his own attack

Wed. February 20, 2019 4:45 PM by GoPride.com News Staff

jussie smollett performs in chicago

photo credit // steven koch / gopride.com

Update: Smollett charged with filing a false police report

Chicago, IL - "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is now a suspect in his alleged assault, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi announced on Wednesday.

Guglielmi tweeted, "Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury."

Update: (2/20/2019 6:50pm) Smollett has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. The charge, a class-four felony, was announced by the Cook County state's attorney's office Wednesday evening, hours after police called Smollett "a suspect in a criminal investigation" for "filing a false police report."

Earlier Wednesday, ABC 7 Chicago reported that prosecutors were speaking with Jussie Smollett's attorneys as part of their investigation into the 36-year-old actor. 

Smollett, an openly gay African-American who plays a gay character on the Fox hit drama, told police that two men shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured a liquid on him that smelled like bleach and put a rope around his neck during an attack on Jan. 29 in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood.

Smollett reportedly told the police the two men yelled "'Empire' fa***t" and "'Empire' n***er'" while striking him.

In a supplemental interview with detectives, Smollett confirmed media reports that one of the attackers also shouted, "This is MAGA country," referring to the slogan "Make America Great Again." 

If Smollett falsified a police report, the charge is a Class 4 felony in Illinois, and carries a potential sentence of one to three years in prison. Smollett could also be ordered to pay restitution to compensate for the cost of the investigation.

On Tuesday, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case "out of an abundance of caution... to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case."

NBC News reported on Tuesday that Smollett pleaded "no contest" in 2007 to giving false information to police after he was pulled over for DUI in California.

Obabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo were arrested last Wednesday and interviewed by police. The two brothers were released on Friday. Police said new information emerged following their interrogation. That information "shifted the trajectory of the investigation," according to police.

In addition to any local charges, CWBChicago reports the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have been quietly investigating a letter sent to the Chicago studio for "Empire" on Jan. 22, and whether Smollett played a role in sending the threatening letter. 

Whoever mailed the letter "made an enormous mistake," a source told CWBChicago. Federal charges were "certain."

This story is developing.