'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett is facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly making a false police report, and if convicted, could face up to three years in prison.
Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on the popular TV series, has been formally charged after he allegedly staged an attack on himself with the help of two extras from 'Empire'. The actor claimed that the attack was racist and homophobic in nature, and also claimed that he received a threatening letter that featured 'MAGA' as its return address.
Speaking at a press conference in Chicago earlier today, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson called Smollett's actions "shameful", adding that there were questions surrounding the attack from "the very beginning" of the investigation.
Johnson went on, asking "(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 an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?"
F0llowing Superintendent Johnson's statements, Chicago PD detective Edward Wodnicki ran through what they believe is a timeline of Smollett's actions, beginning with a racist letter that Smollett letter wrote to himself and posted to Fox, the television studio where 'Empire' is broadcast.
Unhappy with the lack of response from it, Detective Wodnicki claims that Smollett then paid two extras of Nigerian descent - Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo - to stage the attack in exchange for a cheque for $3,500 and a further $500 upon completion.
After the press conference, Smollet's lawyers released a statement, explaining that the actor "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."