UPDATE 5:30 P.M. EST:
According to Chicago Police who spoke with CBS Chicago, Empire actor Jussie Smollett is now considered a suspect for filing a false police report in an alleged attack that occurred on January 29.
Smollett faces a Class 4 felony charge which could amount to one to three years in jail if he is found guilty. On Wednesday CBS Chicago obtained surveillance video of the two men, Ola and Abel Osundairo, who were previously arrested in connection with the incident, as they purchased “countless supplies,” items police believe were used in the attack. The outlet reports the purchases were made the day before the attack took place.
Detectives on the case are currently preparing evidence to present to a grand jury.
The brothers were later released by police after they were arrested and questioned, but gave information to the police which turned the investigation into a different direction, claiming Smollett gave them a cash payment to stage his own attack. The Osundairo’s told officials Smollett paid them $3,500 to pour bleach on the actor and tie a rope around his neck while they yelled racist and homophobic slurs. Through his attorneys, Smollett has denied any involvement or wrong doing.
Social media and the traditional news media have been split over Smollett’s innocence, with many arguing over Smollet’s initial report, while others say the police department has operated negligently with numerous leaks and unconfirmed information.
Media Sites Uncover More Details In Jussie Smollet’s Case, But What’s Their Motive?
New developments are unfurling in the midst of the Jussie Smollett case where the Empire actor alleges he was the victim of a racist and homophobic crime on January 29.
According to CNN, authorities discovered Smollet, 36, used a fake name when he was arrested during a 2007 DUI. The outlet confirmed the report with a spokesperson of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
Smollett was pulled over and gave officer’s the name “Jake,” which also happens to be the same name as one of his siblings, Variety reports. He pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor violations including providing false information to law enforcement, driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and driving without a valid driver license. Smollett was sentenced to two years probation and paid an undisclosed fine, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
For the last three weeks accusations and allegations have continued to mount surrounding Smollett’s case. Over the weekend, the story took a turn after Chicago police officials reported that two men who were initially identified as persons of interest, claim they received a cash payment from the actor to stage his attack. Smollett has since denied having a hand in his attack and also took the media to task over the continuous coverage that points him as a manipulative mastermind.
“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,” Smollett’s lawyers Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said in a Saturday statement.
“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.”
As many have pointed out the uncovering of more information in regards to what happened during the night of the alleged attack point to questions of race, access, and homophobia. The Chicago Police Department has a tainted history in regards to investigations regarding Black lives, from the killing of Black revolutionary Fred Hampton to the recent investigation of the state-sanctioned death of Laquan McDonald.
Smollet’s case shows that journalists and media voices have a due diligence to report the facts, but the facts of this case seem to be filtered through a lens of police leak after leak.