Chicago Police Charge Jussie Smollett With Filing A False Police Report — UPDATE
UPDATE: On Wednesday evening, according to CBS Chicago, the Cook County State's Attorney confirmed Jussie Smollett was charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
EARLIER: A tweet from Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi on Wednesday announced that Empire actor Jussie Smollett is suspected of filing a false police report. "Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony)," Guglielmi stated. "Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury."
According to The Washington Post, Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement promising an "aggressive defense":
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. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.
In another statement on Saturday, the attorneys said claims Smollett had anything to do with the attack only "further victimized" him. They wrote (via The Post), “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying." Bustle has reached out to Smollett's legal defense team for comment and will update accordingly.
On Jan. 29, the black and openly Empire actor filed a report with the Chicago Police Department, alleging that he had been attacked by two unidentified men as he was walking in Chicago. Smollett said that the men, who he claimed were masked, had hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him. Chicago police stated that two men hurled "an unknown chemical substance" at Smollett and allegedly tried to strangle him with a rope. The department added at the time that it was looking into the case as a "possible hate crime."
According to ABC News, Smollett also alleged that his attackers shouted President Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America great again," at him. That detail was corroborated by Smollett's music manager, who told Variety in an interview that he was on the phone with Smollett at the time.
After the alleged attack, Smollett reportedly gave his phone records to the Chicago Police Department to verify that he was talking to his music manager before his alleged encounter. The department noted, however, that the records could not be used in the investigation as they were "redacted." Guglielmi stated, "We are very appreciative of the victim’s cooperation. However, the records provided do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation."
According to The New York Times, Smollett's spokesperson said that the records were redacted to ensure the privacy of those "not relevant to the attack."
Entertainment industry figures and many others expressed support for Smollett after he said he was attacked in Chicago. His family also issued a passionate rebuke following the police report, and said that Smollett was the victim of a "racial and homophobic hate crime."
The family stated, "Oftentimes ending fatally, these are inhumane acts of domestic terrorism and they should be treated as such. They will continue to occur until we hold each other accountable."
Speaking on air for the first time since he filed his report with the Chicago police, Smollett told Good Morning News that he was frustrated about people who did not believe his claim. "At first it was the thing of, like, listen, if I tell the truth, then that's it because it's the truth," Smollett said. "Then it became a thing of, like, how can you doubt that? How can you not believe that? It's the truth."
"If I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more, and that says a lot about the place we are in our country right now," the Empire actor said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Guglielmi confirmed to the press that prosecutors were in contact with Smollett’s legal team for their probe. “We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have,” Guglielmi stated. “It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows; if you have information that’s helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information.”