'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett arrested and charged with filing a false police report

Chicago PD shared Smollett’s mugshot after he was arrested earlier today (Reuters)
Chicago PD shared Smollett’s mugshot after he was arrested earlier today (Reuters)

Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago Police Department has confirmed.

He will appear in court later today for a bail hearing, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Police have released a mugshot of the star after he handed himself into Chicago police.

“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told a press conference. “How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?”

“Smollett paid $3,500 (£2,600) to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” Johnson added. “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with this salary. He concocted a story about being attacked.”

The police say any injuries or wounds seen on the actor’s face were “likely self-inflicted”.

His arrest follows claims he made that he was the victim of a homophobic and racially motivated assault late last month.

Smollett told police that he was attacked by two men near his apartment in the early hours of January 29, who verbally abused him, before pouring bleach on him and putting a noose around his neck.

It was also claimed that the assailants shouted ‘MAGA country’ at him, short for ‘Make America Great Again’, the slogan used by President Donald Trump.

Jussie Smollett (Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Jussie Smollett (Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

However, police later arrested and questioned two brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, who were in the vicinity of the attack at the time, and who it has since emerged are known to Smollett.

The actor’s legal team has denied that the assault was staged.

“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement released on Twitter.

Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said: “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.

“Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

After initially throwing its support behind Smollett, Fox, the network which makes Empire, is now considering suspending him, according to Variety.

In the show, Smollett, a former child star, plays R&B singer Jamal Lyon, son of hip hop mogul Lucious Lyon, played by Terrence Howard.

If found guilty of the charge, he could face up to three years in jail.

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