Things have taken an unexpected turn in the Jussie Smollett case. Smollett was arrested around 6 a.m. ET on Thursday morning by the police on a felony charge for allegedly filing a false police report saying that he was attacked due to a hate crime. Smollett denied the accusation before his arrest and continued to do so after his arrest.
“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,” his attorneys said in a statement before the arrest.
With help from multiple cameras and eyewitnesses in Chicago, the two brothers who attacked Smollett were taken into police custody on February 13. They had returned from their trip to Nigeria and were detained at Customs at O’Hare. The two brothers were identified as Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo. They were questioned by authorities and “new evidence” was presented.
The Chicago police held a news briefing at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday to shed more light on Smollett’s case. Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson spoke out to the crowd and everyone watching at home with a tone of disappointment. He revealed that the racist letter sent to Smollet on the Empire set a week before the attack was fabricated by Smollett himself. However, not much attention was drawn to it as Smollett would have liked.
“When that didn’t work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” Johnson said. “And why? The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary. So he concocted a story about being attacked.”
Police say that the two brothers did their part in making the attack look real, but the bruises and scratches shown on Smollett’s face were likely self-inflicted. When news initially broke out about the attack, fans and reporters rallied together to show their support for the actor and demanded justice from the police.
“Any time a hate crime is reported in the city of Chicago, it gets the same attention. This didn’t get any special attention. You all gave this more attention specifically than we do,” Johnson said, referring to the media while speaking to reporters at the news briefing.
Johnson revealed phone records where Smollett spoke to the two brothers an hour or so before the alleged attack took place.
Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, who previously voiced their support for the Empire actor, released a new statement after the arrest: “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”
Smollett had a bail hearing at 2:30 p.m. at the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County in front of Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. More evidence was provided in court when text messages between Smollett and Abimbola Osundairo, one of the brothers and attackers, were read out aloud by prosecutors. In one message sent to Osundairo, Smollett said, “Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up to talk face-to-face?” Further messages showed that Smollett had paid the brothers $100 to buy the supplies used during the attack.
Jussie Smollett’s bail has been set at $100,000 and he will have to surrender his passport. He will return to court to enter his plea on March 14.