Jussie Smollett has been arrested.
The actor surrendered to authorities Thursday morning after he was charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
At a press conference Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Jussie first faked a letter using racist and homophobic language.
When that didn’t get attention, Jussie paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack, because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
feel free to read this re: jussie. pic.twitter.com/0bLdwIsQN2
— Denver (@_JustDenver) February 21, 2019
via ABC Chicago:
“‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger to promote his career,” Johnson said. “I am left hanging my head and asking, ‘Why? Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? 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?'”
Johnson said from the beginning, detectives had some questions about Smollett’s story. But anyone who reports a hate crime is treated as a victim until the investigation leads elsewhere.
The TV actor claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in the Streeterville neighborhood last month. But the investigation turned on Smollet. He’s now accused of allegedly orchestrating the attack with two Nigerian brothers. One man was an extra on “Empire” and the other was Smollett’s personal trainer.
The letter was sent to the Chicago studio for “Empire” on Jan. 22, a week before Smollett allegedly staged the attack The letter is currently in the FBI crime lab for analysis, sources said.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Smollett surrendered to authorities around 5 a.m. Police received a call from the actor’s legal team around midnight, saying Smollett wanted to turn himself in. When police suggested he wait until the morning to avoid spending the night in jail, he agreed.
Smollett was accompanied by a female lawyer and five or six other people. Police said he was quiet, and surrendered without issue. He is expected to appear in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
20th Century Fox and Fox Entertainment released this statement later Thursday morning: “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”
A CPD spokesman told ABC News Smollett’s legal team called at about midnight and that Smollett wanted to turn himself in. Police suggested Smollett come in around 5 a.m. instead of staying overnight in jail. Police said a female attorney was present with Smollett when he turned himself in and his lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson were not present at the time.
Meanwhile, the attorney representing the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, said they testified in front of a grand jury for hours Wednesday and said Smollet needs to come clean about what really happened.
“I think that Jussie’s conscience is probably not letting him sleep right now, so I think he should unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what actually happened,” Schmidt.
Surveillance cameras leading them to two brothers who say they were paid to rough Smollett up. Police were able to track them through ride share records from the night of the incident.
Police said the brothers told them they participated for financial gain and that they were paid $3,500, but they won’t be charged. Detectives said the surveillance cameras were keys to unlocking this case.
The city came together to investigate and help the police with this crime,” said Chicago Police Area Central Detectives Commander Edward Wodnicki. “It was because of these pod cameras, our investment into technology in the city of Chicago and the great assistance from the community in giving us those other cameras that led us to a really solid timeline of where our two persons of interest went, so in short we were able to track them initially forward.”
Smollett’s lawyers released a statement saying: “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.”
Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said they have no comment at this time.
Johnson said Chicago police did not pull any resources away from homicides or shootings and the case did not get any special attention.
In court Thursday, the judge is expected to formally read the charge against Smollett, set his bond and then he will be released. Smollett will return to court at a later date to enter his plea.
If Smollett is eventually convicted of the charge, he could face up to three years in prison. He could also face substantial fines.
As for the two brothers who allegedly helped Smollett stage the attack, because they cooperated with authorities and testified before a grand jury, they are not expected to face any charges.
Donald Trump wasted NO time gloating about the situation.
.@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019
The Police Superintendent expressed his outrage at Jussie Smollett for allegedly betraying the African American and LGBT communities to further his career in a “publicity stunt.”
Watch the full press conference detailing the police investigation that resulted in Jussie’s arrest below.