Jussie Smollett staged the alleged violent attack against him last month because he was “dissatisfied with his salary,” according to Chicago police.
In a press conference Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollet, 36, also “attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language,” to the Empire set prior to the attack.
Police said that when the letter didn’t work, he paid two men, “$3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” Johnson said. He added that police are in possession of the check they believe he used to pay the men.
Smollett is also believed to have inflicted his own wounds to make his attack look credible.
“He concocted a story about being attacked,” Johnson said. “This takes away resources we can put into other crimes.”
The news came in a stunning new update with information cops obtained during a “47th hour” interview with the two men, believed to be brothers Ola and Abimola Osundairo. The men were arrested last week before being released shortly afterward.
“At the 47th hour is when the two brothers decided with the help of their lawyer they decided to confess to the entirety of what the plot was,” Johnson said.
Police slammed Smollett’s actions during the presser Thursday, noting that “bogus attacks cause real harm.” The department criticized the actor for playing on the very painful issues of racism and homophobia in America and the city of Chicago especially.
“Why would anyone — especially an African-American man — use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” Johnson asked. “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?”
“I’m offended by what happened and I’m angry,” Johnson added. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t own and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Smollett turned himself in early Thursday morning after officially being named a suspect in the criminal case Wednesday evening. His lawyers intend to mount an “aggressive defense,” they said Wednesday.
“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,” Smollett’s legal team said in a statement.
Smollett initially claimed that he was attacked on January 29 by two masked men. He told police that he was assaulted before the men poured bleach on him and placed a noose around his neck while shouting racist and homophobic slurs.
The Empire actor is expected to appear in bond court later Thursday. He is facing up to three years in prison for a charge of disorderly conduct, which is a class four felony.