There is reportedly “a lot more evidence” indicating that Jussie Smollett staged his own hate crime.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson revealed that there is a lot of information leading investigators to believe the “Empire” actor was not actually the victim in the hate crime he alleged took place last month, speaking with “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts on Monday.
“Let me just put this out there first and foremost right now that he still has the presumption of innocence until he has his day in court,” Johnson said.
“There’s a lot more evidence that hasn’t been presented yet that doesn’t support the version that he gave us. There’s still a lot of video evidence, physical evidence and testimony that doesn’t support what he said happened,” he said.
Johnson explained that Chicago police regarded the 36-year-old actor as the victim and treated the alleged assault as a hate crime from the outset.
“The entire time we investigated the incident he was treated like a victim,” he said, discussing Smollett’s claim before his arrest for disorderly conduct and for filing a false police report, alleging two men had attacked him, poured a chemical on him and put a rope around his neck, while yelling racist and homophobic slurs at him. He could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
“I refused to characterize Jussie Smollett as a suspect unless we had concrete evidence,” Johnson said.
“The 47th hour that we had those two individuals in custody is when it changed,” he said, referring to brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo who were apprehended for 48 hours and became “cooperating witnesses” in the 47th hour, adding that investigators “gathered up a lot of evidence and facts before then.”
“We worked very closely with their lawyer,” Johnson told Roberts, citing the $3,500 check from Smollett to the two men.
The actor was also accused of sending himself hate mail to the “Empire” set. Investigation of the letter, which reportedly contained “MAGA” messages and what turned out to be a harmless white powder, in being conducted by the FBI. Smollett could face up to 10 years behind bars if he is convicted of mail fraud, according to Fox News.
“If he mailed that threatening letter to himself by using the post office, he engaged in postal fraud. That’s five to 10 years in jail — that’s three times what he’s facing for filing a false report if the feds want to go there,” Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said.
Johnson leveled a blistering statement about Smollett in a press conference after the actor turned himself into Chicago police last week.
Meanwhile, the Police Superintendent emphasized on “Good Morning America” that the Chicago police were not out to get the actor, having initially sympathized with him after his report.
“What’s important for people to realize is it’s not that the Chicago police saying he did something. It’s the evidence, the facts, the witnesses that are saying this,” Johnson maintained.
“The Chicago Police Department has its issues with racism and excessive force and all of that. And I’m acutely aware of that,” Johnson acknowledged. “But we didn’t earn this particular incident and I just refuse to let us take that shot if we have evidence of the contrary.”
“I want people to understand that (filing a false police report) is a damaging thing to a city and to a police department. It’s my responsibility to make sure the record gets set straight,” he said. “I just hope people don’t judge other people that are victims of these types of crimes.”