Jussie Smollett Has Been Arrested for Allegedly Filing False Police Report In Hate Crime Attack
Jussie Smollett was officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by police for filing a false police report.
Police named the star as a suspect after confirming to PEOPLE that he was questioned again by prosecutors.
The initial report about the alleged attack raised alarm: The openly gay black actor claimed to police that he’d been physically attacked on the street in his downtown Chicago neighborhood around 2 a.m. local time on Jan. 29 by two black-clad, masked men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with an “unknown chemical substance” and left him with a rope around his neck.
“This is MAGA country,” Smollett claimed one assailant said, invoking President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan perceived by some as a discriminatory dismissal of minorities and immigrants. Smollett’s family branded the incident a racial and homophobic hate crime, and others on social media followed suit.
Smollett defended himself against the claims he was lying in a recent interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts.
Last week, brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo — identified in surveillance footage on the night of the incident — were arrested and released without charges. The following day, reports emerged that the brothers claimed the Empire star paid them to stage the incident.
An attorney for the men, Gloria Schmidt, previously told CBS Chicago that the men know Smollett from working on Empire and occasionally go to the same gym as the actor.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” according to a statement from Smollett’s lawyers. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” the statement continued. “It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”