UPDATE (12:51 p.m. PST, Feb. 21): Jussie Smollett paid $10,000 to be released after a judge set his bail at $100,000 on Thursday, NBC News reports. During the court proceedings, a series of texts between Smollett and the two brothers involved in the attack were read aloud in court, according to Deadline. The texts included buying supplies and making sure that MAGA chants were part of the attack. According to the texts read, the attack was supposed to take place on January 28 but was delayed when Smollett’s return to Chicago from New York City was delayed. They allegedly also originally planned to pour gasoline, not bleach, on Smollett.
Because the actor is seen as a flight risk, he was asked to surrender his passport. According to his lawyers, Fox has pushed back production on Smollett’s series Empire this week.
ORIGINAL: After turning himself in to Chicago Police, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was charged with a Class 4 felony for falsifying a police report.
In a press conference on Thursday morning, Chicago Police Chief Eddie T. Johnson called the attack a “hoax” and a “shameful” publicity stunt. Johnson said that Smollett orchestrated the attack because he was dissatisfied with his current Empire salary.
According to Johnson, Smollett paid $3,500 via check to stage the attack and that Smollett sent the letter circulating online that said, “Die Black fag,” which was sent to Fox Studios prior to the attack. Johnson said Smollett resorted to staging the attack because the letter did not get much attention.
Johnson went on to say that, when police discovered Smollett’s motives, “quite frankly, it pissed everybody off, because we have to invest valuable resources.” Johnson also said that “absolute justice” in the case would involve Smollett apologizing to the city, admitting his role in the attack and “be man enough to offer what he should offer up in terms of all the resources put into this.”
Pretty powerful moment. pic.twitter.com/qzuEEhW9dk
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 21, 2019
The two men who were paid to attack Smollett did strike Smollett, but Johnson says that most of the scratches and bruises on Smollett’s face were most likely self-inflicted. Phone records show that Smollett spoke to Ola and Abel Osundairo, the two brothers who aided in staging the attack who spoke to prosecutors earlier this week, on the phone about an hour before the incident and then again after. They stayed in touch while the brothers were in Nigeria following the attack. One of the brothers previously worked on Empire with Smollett.
Smollett appeared on Good Morning America to speak about the attack, Smollett accused those who didn’t believe his story of being ignorant. "It's not that you don't believe this is the truth,” Smollett said, ”you don't even want to see this is the truth." In the press conference, Johnson called his appearance on the morning talk show “shameful” and “despicable.”
The police chief said that Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.” He added, “I’m left hanging my head and asking why.” Johnson opened the conference by saying he wishes that the families and victims of gun violence in Chicago got as much attention as the Smollett investigation. Smollett is expected in bond court later today and maintains his innocence, through his lawyers.