Jussie Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary on Empire, prompting him to pay $3,500 to stage the alleged attack on him, according to police.
On Thursday morning, hours after Smollett turned himself in on charges on filing a false police report, Chicago PD had a press conference to lay out their case. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson opened up the proceedings with strong words, calling Smollett’s actions “shameful” and saying he “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote this career.” He further shared that the Empire star was behind the threatening letter that he had previously received and when that didn’t get the reaction he wanted, Smollett paid $3,500 to Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who he knew through the hit Fox series. Johnson says police now have possession of the check Smollett used for the payment. Detective Edward Wodnicki then went through the entire timeline, going inside the entire investigation. Smollett will be going in front of a judge at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Just over three weeks ago, the Empire star appeared to be the victim of a racial and homophobic attack in Chicago, where the Fox series films. But the narrative turned Saturday, when the Chicago PD confirmed that new evidence had “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.” New reports have said that the two original suspects, who have ties to Smollett through Empire, were prepared to testify Tuesday in front of a grand jury that they were hired by the actor to stage the attack, before a call from Smollett’s lawyers postponed the proceedings. But, that grand jury ended up taking place on Wednesday.
Upon the felony charge coming down against Smollett, his lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement, “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.”