Jussie Smollett is accused of staging an attack on himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday.
The “Empire” actor on Wednesday was charged with a felony for filing a false report in the racist and homophobic assault he claimed to have suffered in Chicago last month. He turned himself in to police custody early Thursday.
Smollett was paid $65,000 per episode for his co-starring role in the most recent season of “Empire,” a well-placed source told HuffPost. On average, there are 18 episodes of “Empire” per season.
Johnson said during a press briefing that Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack that garnered national attention for weeks.
Police initially investigated the incident as a hate crime, but they began to suspect the actor after reviewing footage from more than 50 security cameras in the area and interviewing the men they had in custody. The men told police that Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary.
Smollett claimed two masked men attacked him on Jan. 29, wrapped a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs and said, “this is MAGA country” before fleeing the scene.
Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson
Johnson said Smollett first sent himself a threatening letter with homophobic and racial slurs before allegedly paying the men to attack him. Some of the scratches and bruises seen on Smollett’s face in pictures he took after the incident were likely self-inflicted, Johnson said.
Smollett has shamed the city, Johnson said, adding that the “publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”
“Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” Johnson asked. “How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?”
“I wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention,” he added.
Smollett could face up to three years in prison.