Justice For Jussie!!!
WHAT TO KNOW
Note: You can watch the Chicago Police Department’s news conference live in the video player at the top of the page beginning at 9 a.m. CT.
Actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in to police Thursday morning, a Chicago police spokesman said, on a felony charge of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report.
“Jussie Smollet [sic] is under arrest and in custody of detectives,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted just before 5:30 a.m. Guglielmi confirmed to NBC Chicago that Smollett surrendered to police at around 5 a.m. at CPD’s Central Booking station at West 18th Street and South State Street.
The “Empire” star was charged Wednesday with the class four felony, which carries a sentence ranging from probation to up to three years in prison, according to Chicago police and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” Guglielmi had said in an earlier statement on Wednesday.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was scheduled to address the case at 9 a.m. from CPD headquarters. Smollett was expected to appear in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
“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,” Smollett’s legal team said in a statement Wednesday. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
Chicago police have confirmed that attorneys for Smollett had discussions with prosecutors, but details surrounding the dialogue were not released and Guglielmi declined to confirm reports that subpoenas had been issued for Smollett’s phone and bank records.
Police said earlier this week that they wanted to re-interview Smollett in their investigation into an alleged attack he said he suffered in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood three weeks prior.
Authorities said new information “shifted” their investigation of the reported assault, in which Smollett told authorities he was physically attacked as he was returning home from an early morning stop at a Subway restaurant. He said two masked men shouted racial, anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA country!” as they looped a rope around his neck and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him before running away.
Detectives questioned two brothers about the attack but released them late Friday without charges, Guglielmi said Saturday. Police said they had gleaned new information from their interrogation of the two men and they were no longer suspects.
Surveillance video taken at 10 a.m. on Jan. 28 appears to show brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo shopping at Beauty House at 1041 W. Wilson Ave. in the Uptown neighborhood.
The brothers can be seen making their way to the check out counter and purchasing several items, including two ski masks, gloves and baseball caps. The video then shows them walking to their vehicle.
The items are of interest because police said Smollett told them the attackers were wearing masks. The security guard working that day told NBC 5 he realized the brothers had been in the store last week and that he had helped them find the items they were looking for.
“I know it’s them. I showed them the mask, we have them on video purchasing the mask. So there’s no doubt in my mind,” Montage Silas said.
The brothers were interviewed, arrested and later released without charges in connection to the alleged attack. Chicago police then said the brothers were being considered cooperating witnesses against Smollett.
A source familiar with the investigation told NBC’s Andy Blankstein the investigation has shifted to whether Smollett paid the two men to fake the attack.
“This has been very traumatizing for them as well as everyone who knows this story and has heard this story,” said Gloria Schmidt, attorney for the Osundairo brothers.
Guglielmi declined to comment on published reports that police believe Smollett staged the assault or that a grand jury may hear evidence in the case.
“We’re not confirming, denying or commenting on anything until we can talk to him and we can corroborate some information that we’ve gotten,” he said.
On Tuesday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the investigation into the alleged attack with little explanation.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement Tuesday.
A statement from 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment issued Wednesday – before the charges were announced – said that despite the ongoing case, Smollett’s character was “not being written out of the show.”
“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” Fox said of Smollett.