Infotainment

Felony criminal charges against Jussie Smollett approved

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/22/2019 12:00:00 AM IST

 Authorities in Chicago on Wednesday approved felony criminal charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, hours after he was “officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation” for allegedly “filing a false police report” in connection with his Jan. 29 attack claims, police said.

The update in the case was provided by the department’s Chief of Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi on Twitter, who said the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office approved the “Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report” charges.

“Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” he continued.

So far, Smollet has not surrendered, Chicago police told Fox News. His attorneys were made aware of the charges.

Earlier Wednesday evening, Guglielmi tweeted that detectives on the case were laying out evidence to a grand jury in Cook County.

Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson released a statement on their client’s behalf.

“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,” the statement said. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

In a statement to Fox News on Wednesday, 20th Century Fox Television, which produces “Empire,” and Fox Entertainment, said they had “no comment at this time.”

Smollett, who is openly gay and black, reported that on Jan. 29, he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He claimed that the men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him, poured a substance on him, threw a rope around his neck and shouted, “This is MAGA country!”

Investigators combed through surveillance video from the area where Smollett claimed he was attacked but were unsuccessful in locating footage of the beating. They did find and release images of two people they said they wanted to question.

Two individuals who were questioned about the alleged crime were arrested, police told Fox News on Friday. Although police did not elaborate on what crime was potentially committed, they said the individuals were not charged. Authorities had considered them to be suspects, however, according to Guglielmi at the time.

The two men — whom police identified only as Nigerian brothers — were picked up at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport last Wednesday and taken into custody after returning from Nigeria after police learned that at least one of the men worked on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. He did not know what the man’s job was on the television drama, he said.

Guglielmi confirmed that a search warrant was executed at the Chicago apartment where the men lived but did not have any information about exactly what police found.

On Friday evening, Guglielmi tweeted that “due to new evidence” obtained through questioning, the individuals “were released without charging.”

 

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