In a scathing news conference on today about Jussie Smollett case, Supt Johnson said the actor committed a crime “to further his own profile”.
That shocking statement came during this morning’s Chicago Police press conference on the Smollett’s arrest. Johnson said Jussie paid siblings Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo $3,500 to participate in the attack.
Johnson said, “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.” Johnson called the alleged hoax “shameful.”
Johnson, who is African American, said he was insulted and angry by Smollett’s actions. In particular, Johnson said that the use of a noose “to further his own public profile” was a “slap in the face” to everyone in Chicago, a city that “embraced” Smollett.
The “hoax”, he said, “received national attention for weeks,” and may deter future hate crime victims from coming forward for fear that their allegations may be met with scepticism. He called upon Jussie Smollett “to apologise to this city that he smeared”.
“Celebrities, news commentators, and even presidential candidates [were] weighing on something that was choreographed by an actor,” he said, with palpable anger as he spoke.
“I’m left hanging my head and asking why,” he said, describing Mr Smollett’s actions as a “slap in the face” to Chicagoans.
Suspicion over the actor’s claim started to grow after police said they could not find any video footage of the alleged incident from surveillance cameras. There were also no witnesses.
But investigators managed to track and identify two men who appeared on video footage near where the actor said he had been attacked through a ride-sharing app.
Jussie’s staged attack happened in the early hours of Sunday, January 29. Smollett claimed he was approached by two men wearing ski masks who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at the actor. They then put a noose around his neck and proceeded to punch him, before pouring a chemical substance on him.
According to police, the men were yelling “This is MAGA country”, in reference to Donald Trump’s presidential slogan “Make America Great Again”
The brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, left the US after the alleged attack and were arrested on their return last week. They were later released and are said to be co-operating with the investigation. One of the brothers is Jussie’s personal trainer and both have worked as extras on Empire.
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