Empire actor Jussie Smollett arrested in Chicago over hate crime claim

Jussie Smollett Booking

Jussie Smollett Booking

"Mr. Smollet is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing", read a statement sent on behalf of Smollett, who has been released on $100,000 bail, to Deadline on Thursday night. Smollett, who is black and gay, initially said the men shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck.

According to Tom Ahern, Deputy Director of News Affairs and Communications for the Chicago Police, Smollett faces a class four felony charge, which is punishable for up to three years in prison. His trial begins in March.

Smollett, according to Johnson, scarred the city of Chicago in a manner that it "didn't earn and certainly didn't deserve". However, when he showed up, he was with his family and in a deeply emotional state. "He concocted a story about being attacked", Johnson said.

The brothers, who are not considered suspects, wore gloves during the staged attack and "punched him a little bit", Johnson said.

"When that didn't work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago's reputation through the mud", the police chief said.

The actor's attorneys released a statement on Saturday, claiming "Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with".

February 15 - Chicago police said they arrested two Nigerian brothers in connection with the alleged assault.

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Police interviewed more than 100 people, reviewed footage from more than 55 surveillance cameras and executed more than 50 search warrants.

Prosecutors claim Smollett first raised the idea of staging a hate crime to brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo on January 25. Smollett was charged by prosecutors, not the grand jury.

Speaking outside the courthouse where the grand jury met, the brothers' attorney said the two men testified for about two and a half hours.

She said her clients did not care about a plea deal or immunity.

Smollett has been active in LBGTQ issues, and initial reports of the assault drew outrage and support for him on social media, including from Sen.

"@JussieSmollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and unsafe comments!?"

"I'm also concerned about what this means moving forward for hate crimes", he said. He later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge and took an alcohol education and treatment program.

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