Jussie Smollett – an actor known for appearing on Fox’s TV series Empire – has found himself at the center of media attention in the last few days, and not for his talents as a TV star. The actor had previously claimed that he had been attacked by two men in public during January. However, it appears that Chicago Police are now keen to pursue a felony charge against Smollett as it transpires he may have fabricated the event, according to CNN.
“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” Anthony Gugliemi confirmed on behalf of Chicago PD midweek. Smollett had previously claimed that two men had put a rope around his neck and had poured a chemical on him in what was claimed to be a homophobic attack. However, following detectives making a beeline for the actor’s financial records, it appears that the police may be keen to push for a disorderly conduct charge on the grounds of filing a fake report, which could see the star jailed for up to three years – as per Illinois code.
Smollett has denied his involvement in the attack, according to his attorneys. “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 advised via statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
It has also been suggested by Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson that Smollett may have staged a fake attack in an attempt to further his career, ‘dissatisfied with his salary’, according to BBC News. Supt. Johnson stated that the actor should apologize to the city of Chicago for his ‘smear’. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.” Supt. Johnson also suggested that Smollett’s alleged actions may deter hate crime victims from coming forward in future for fear of being accused of falsehood.
Smollett staged ‘hate crime’ to advance career: Police [video]
Smollett has already turned himself in to police, which will likely lead to further action being taken in the coming days and weeks. With the actor’s team ready to defend him at all costs, this appears to be a complex case which has captured headlines for reasons Smollett may not have anticipated. The knock-on effect, if Smollett is found guilty, may hamper hate crime victims’ confidence, as Supt. Johnson has advised.
Jussie Smollett Staged Hate Attack Because He Was Unhappy About His Salary, Police Say [video]