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Jussie Smollett is arrested after charge for filing false police report

Ella Braidwood February 21, 2019
Actor Jussie Smollet attends the FOX 2014 Programming Presentation at the FOX Fanfront on May 12, 2014 in New York City.

Actor Jussie Smollet attends the FOX 2014 Programming Presentation at the FOX Fanfront on May 12, 2014 in New York City. (Ben Gabbe/Getty)

A Chicago Police spokesperson has said that Empire star Jussie Smollett has been arrested, after being charged with filing a false report.

Smollett said he was subjected to a racist and homophobic assault by two men in Chicago last month.

But a number of US media reports claimed that Smollett may have staged that attack by paying two Nigerian brothers, who had both worked as extras on Empire.

Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer at Chicago Police Department, tweeted on Thursday (February 21) that Smollett had been arrested earlier that morning.

“Jussie Smollet is under arrest and in custody of detectives,” he wrote.

“At 9am at #ChicagoPolice Headquarters, Supt Eddie Johnson, Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki will brief reporters on the investigation prior to the defendants appearance in court.”

Smollett’s arrested comes after Guglielmi tweeted on Wednesday night (February 20) that Smollett had been charged with 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),” said Guglielmi.

Jussie Smollett is charged with “Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report,” say police

A Class 4 felony is punishable with one to three years’ imprisonment, the Illinois legislative code says.

Chicago Police Department confirmed to PinkNews the charges had been brought against Smollett.

“Felony criminal charges have been approved by Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report,” Guglielmi said in a statement emailed to PinkNews.

Jussie Smollett speaks to Good Morning America in the wake of the alleged attack
Jussie Smollett has previously criticised the “lies” being spread about him over the alleged assault. (ABC News)

“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”

Prosecutors said a bail hearing for Smollett is anticipated at 1.30pm local time on Thursday (February 21), reports CNN.

The 36-year-old actor, who came out as gay on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2015, said he was attacked by two individuals at approximately 2am in E. North Lower Water Street on January 29.

Smollett alleged that the two men shouted the pro-Trump slogan “MAGA,” meaning “Make America Great Again,” at him during the attack.

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

—Jussie Smollett’s lawyers

He claimed they also shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him, including “n****r” and “faggot.”

Police arrested brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo in relation to the alleged assault last week, but the pair were released without charges, according to CBS Chicago.

Smollett has since been discharged from hospital and returned to the Empire set earlier this month.

Video footage obtained by CBS Chicago appears to show the two brothers buying a ski mask, red hat, and other items the day before the alleged assault on Smollett.

Jussie Smollett’s lawyers say they will “mount an aggressive defence”

Smollett’s lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson have released a statement saying they plan “an aggressive defence” against the charges, reports the BBC and CBS reporter Charlie De Mar. 

“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,” the statement reads.

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

In a previous statement they had said Smollett had been “further victimised… that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth,” reports the BBC. 

On February 14, Smollett hit out at the “lies” being spread about him in relation to the alleged assault in an interview with Good Morning America.

“I’m p***ed off. It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks,” he said.

Smollett added: “I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate. And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more.

“That says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now.”

Following the attack, the cast of Empire took to social media to show their support for Smollett.

Other celebrities, including Ellen Page, also spoke out in solidarity with Smollett.

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