Actor Jussie Smollett is in police custody Thursday morning, a Chicago police spokesman said, on a felony charge of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report.
CBS News says that Smollett allegedly paid two brothers to stage the assault. The men claimed the actor told them to buy the rope and that he paid for it. Smollett and the brothers even rehearsed the incident, they allegedly told police.
Production sources told TMZ that Smollett, who was supposed to have nine scenes and a big musical number in a big episode of Empire, has had five of his scenes cut and the song cut out completely.
Smollett alleged that he was attacked after he went to a Subway restaurant early in the morning of January 29. But holes quickly emerged in his story.
It turns out that the two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, know Smollett. Ola had appeared as an extra on Empire. They have allegedly admitted they were paid $3,500 to stage the attack.
The brothers told officials Smollett paid them the money before they briefly fled to Nigeria after the attack took place. The actor promised them another $500 upon their return, according to CBS Chicago.
Now a source tells CBS that Smollett is suspected of staging the attack after being upset a threatening racist letter, made of cutout print and sent to the show’s studio, which also depicted a man with a rope around his neck, didn’t get a “bigger reaction.”
CBS investigative reporter Brad Edwards was told by the source,
“When the letter didn’t get enough attention, he concocted the staged attack.”
The brothers told CBS,
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”
According to CNN, attorneys for Smollett say they’ll “mount an aggressive defense” as the actor faces a felony charges for allegedly filing a false report.
UPDATE: Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson said police did not give Jussie Smollett’s reported hate crime any extra attention or effort — officers treated it the way they treat every hate crime. Referring to the media while speaking to reporters at a news conference.
“Any time a hate crime is reported in the city of Chicago, it gets the same attention. This didn’t get any special attention. You all gave this more attention specifically than we do.”
According to Johnson, he staged the alleged attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” In a reference to a letter sent to the “Empire” set in the days before the attack, Smollett
“attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language.”
(Photos, screen grabs, CBS News; via MSN)