Jussie Smollett was eviscerated after being arrested on Thursday by furious Chicago police bosses who alleged that he mailed himself a threatening letter then staged a hoax attack on himself because he was unhappy with his Empire salary.
At an extraordinary press conference, Chicago Police Department Chief Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson abhorred him as a ‘troubled young man’ who has ‘taken advantage of the pain and anger of racism to further his career’ by allegedly lying that he was attacked by racist and homophobic assailants on January 29.
Smollett makes $100,000 per episode of Empire and there are 18 episodes in the current season which earns him $1.8million. He also has a record deal with Columbia Records.
The alleged motive ‘p****d everybody off’, Superintendent Johnson said, adding that Smollett’s repeated ‘lies’ were ‘shameful’ and ‘despicable’.
He called for ‘absolute justice’ which he said amounted to Smollett apologizing and offering to pay for the police resources he wasted.
20th Century Fox, which defended him on Wednesday, issued a statement on Thursday to say it was ‘considering its options’ in light of his arrest.
President Trump has also called for the actor to apologize for making it appear as though he was being targeted by one of them.
Police have found phone records which they say prove Smollett spoke with brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo an hour before the attack, an hour afterwards and while they were in Nigeria, keeping their heads down, while the case gained global attention.
Police say that on January 22, Smollett mailed himself a threatening letter to the Empire studio in Chicago which had ‘MAGA’ written on it and included racist and homophobic slurs.
When that did not win him a pay rise from 20th Century Fox, he allegedly hired the brothers to attack him at 2am on January 29 in what he then told police was a racist and homophobic attack.
They punched him but Smollett gave himself the scratches on his face that were visible in a hospital-bed selfie he took after reporting it to police, the Superintendent said.
While Smollett received an outpouring of sympathy from politicians, celebrities and public figures around the world, the brothers fled to Nigeria.
They were tracked down through their use of taxis on the night of the incident and were picked up when they returned to Chicago on February 13.
Once in custody, they told police that Smollett had hired them and said it was because he wanted a higher salary.
He paid them a reported $3,500 to carry out the attack, they said, and promised them $500 more when they returned from their trip.
Smollett is in custody awaiting his first court appearance on felony charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct. He will appear before a judge at 1.30pm.
His lawyers issued a statement on Wednesday to protest his innocence and condemn the police for leaking so many details of the investigation.
During the press conference, Superintendent Johnson revealed Smollett went from being treated as the victim in the case to a suspect when the brothers ‘confessed’ the ‘entire plot’ in the final hour of a 48 hour hold.
That is when they, in their lawyer’s words, ‘manned up’ and revealed that they had been hired to carry out the attack by the actor himself.
Smollett actually furthered the investigation along by going on Good Morning America and confirming that the two people in a grainy surveillance footage still were the men who attacked him.
He was unaware when he made the remark that Chicago PD had identified those men as the Osundairo brothers and that they had them in custody.
‘I come to you today not only as the Superintendent of Chicago Police Department but as a black man who has spent his entire life living in the city of Chicago.
I know the racial divide. I know how hard it has been for our city and our nation to come together.
‘Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
‘I’m left hanging my head and asking why? Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?
‘How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see it as an opportunity to manipulate his own public profile?’ Superintendent Johnson said, adding it was a ‘slap in the face ‘ to ‘everyone’ in Chicago.
Smollett has not made any statements since he was taken into custody.
His lawyers said on Wednesday night that he would fight the charges with an ‘aggressive defense’.
In previous statements, his representatives have angrily hit out at the media and insisted that he is the victim.
Within hours of him being charged, Smollett’s attorneys arranged for him to hand himself in quietly at Chicago’s 1st District afterwards.
He appeared in his mugshot wearing a black puffer jacket, staring blankly at the camera.
More on Daily Mail
Credits: Daily Mail