Jussie Smollett Named a Suspect by Chicago Police for Filing False Report
Chicago police have named “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation, three weeks after he reported he was the victim of a hate crime.
Detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury, which is expected to determine whether to indict Smollett on a charge 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),” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. “Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.”
If convicted, Smollett could face one to three years in prison. Federal authorities are also investigating a purported threat letter that was sent to Smollett at the “Empire” studio prior to the alleged attack.
Chicago detectives have been seeking to interview Smollett since Saturday, when the department revealed that new evidence had changed the “trajectory” of the case.
Smollett has not spoken with police since officers released Ola and Abel Osundairo, the brothers who were in the vicinity of the attack in the early hours of Jan. 29. Local media have reported that the brothers told detectives that Smollett paid them to stage the attack.
Smollett angrily denied that on Saturday, in a statement attributed to his attorneys, Victor Henderson and Todd Pugh.
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” the attorneys said. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has recused herself from decisions on the case. On Wednesday, her office said that she had provided an introduction to one of Smollett’s relatives early in the case, and wants to avoid any appearance of conflict.
“Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident,” the prosecutor’s office said. “Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor.”