BREAKING UPDATE: Jussie Smollet has officially been charged with filing a fake police report. CrimeOnline will have more details…
Embattled actor Jussie Smollett is now officially being considered a suspect in connection with an alleged hate crime he claimed was perpetrated on him outside of a Chicago restaurant last month.
As CrimeOnline has previously reported, the “Empire” star reported an attack at the hands of two men shouting racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, poured a liquid on him and tied a noose around his neck.
Since the alleged attack on January 29, allegations have swirled that the incident — along with a letter addressed to Smollett at the show’s Chicago studio days earlier — was a hoax. Two brothers were arrested and later released without charge, leading to new claims of the actor’s alleged role in orchestrating the attack.
In a social media statement on Wednesday, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed that investigators are treating the actor as a suspect, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury,” he tweeted.
Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury. pic.twitter.com/FhDcbBKsuU
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 20, 2019
Guglielmi said Smollett is accused of filing a false police report, a criminal count qualifying as a Class 4 felony.
Earlier this week, the police spokesman dismissed reports that Smollett and the two brothers considered suspects early on in the investigation were seen together in the actor’s residential building earlier on the night of the alleged attack.
Fox and 20th Century Fox TV, the companies behind “Empire” did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. The actor’s representatives were similarly mum after having previously defended Smollett against increasing scrutiny.
“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,” said the actor’s attorneys in a news release on Saturday. “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.”
[Featured image: Jussie Smollett, Victoria Will/Invision/AP]