Jussie Smollett Arrested for Allegedly Filing False Police Report [Updated]
Chicago police have named Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation into whether the Empire star filed a false police report when he said he was attacked outside his Chicago apartment last month. Smollett alleged that two men wearing black masks and red hats assaulted him, poured bleach on his head, and placed a noose around his neck while yelling racial and homophobic slurs. Anonymous police sources have told local reporters that authorities suspect the attack was staged.
Last week, police arrested and ultimately released Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo in connection with the alleged attack. Officials reportedly recovered a black ski mask and bleach during a search of the Osundairos’ home. CBS Chicago reports that the brothers told police they were paid $3,500 by Smollett to help stage the assault. Olabinjo and Abimbola were seen today entering a grand jury room at a Cook County courthouse where they reportedly appeared as witnesses.
An attorney representing the Osundairos, one of whom has appeared in Empire as an extra, said last week that the brothers knew Smollett and were “horrified” to learn he was attacked. Smollett has denied staging the altercation. “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,” the actor’s attorney said in a statement on Sunday.
Chicago police are investigating the alleged false police report as a felony. View the department spokesperson’s announcement here.
Update (8:00 p.m. ET): Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi has announced that Smollett has been indicted on felony criminal charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.
Update (9:00 p.m. ET): Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson have responded to the actor’s criminal charges in a statement first reported by The Blast. “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,” they said. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
Update (2/21 8:40 a.m., ET): Smollett was arrested early Thursday on a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, the Chicago Tribune reports. He’s scheduled to be arraigned later Thursday morning. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.