Chicago Police: We Have 'More Evidence' Jussie Smollett Staged Hate Crime
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has revealed there is mounting evidence
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has revealed there is mounting evidence that "Empire" star Jussie Smollett was responsible for staging a racist and homophobic hate crime.
Johnson reminded that Smollett had described the incident as a hate crime and that the Chicago police treated it as such.
The Superintendent then noted that even though Smollett claimed two alleged attackers were masked, he "was able to say he'd seen around their eyes that at least one was white-skinned."
"Let me just put this out there first and foremost right now that he still has the presumption of innocence until he has his day in court," Johnson told host Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" Monday.
"The entire time we investigated the incident he was treated like a victim," Johnson added.
Police charged Smollett on felony charges for faking his own "racist and homophobic attack," after two brothers gave statements confessing they were paid to stage the incident.
He turned himself in at central booking last week, and if convicted, he could face up to three years in prison
A bond for $100,000 was set by a judge for Smollett on Thursday.
A judge set Smollett's bond for $100,000 on Thursday.
Smollett alleged he was attacked by two masked men who beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled "This is MAGA country" - a reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan.
But it wasn't until police spoke with brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo that their investigation shifted from hate crime and to an allegedly false police report.
According to Fox News: Johnson said that the Chicago police apprehended the brothers for 48 hours and that they became "cooperating witnesses" in the 47th hour, noting that authorities "gathered up a lot of evidence and facts before then."
"We worked very closely with their lawyer," Johnson told Roberts, explaining that the Osundairos' attorney likely advised them on how to proceed with the police.
He stated that the Chicago police were not out to get Smollett and sympathized with his plight at first, despite his story allegedly having holes.
"There were some questions [about the alleged hate crime Smollett initially reported], but there are always questions when people are describing incidents to us," Johnson said, adding, "We didn't have the facts to support him being involved in it until that 47th hour."
He said, "It's not the Chicago police saying [the attack was staged], it's the evidence, the facts and the witnesses that are saying it."
The smoking gun, Johnson claims, was the Osundairo brothers presenting police with a check from Smollett.
"They said that he paid them $3,500 with a check ... to carry out this incident," he said.
Smollett's legal team has maintained that the check was for personal training and nutrition services.
"The Chicago Police Department has its issues with racism and excessive force, and I'm acutely aware of that," Johnson admitted. "But we didn't earn this particular incident, and I refuse to let us take that shot if we have evidence of the contrary ... [Filing a false report] is a dangerous thing to do to a city and to a police department. Something like this can be really damaging. We made a lot of progress in the last three years in terms of race relations ... I just hope people don't judge other people that are victims of these types of crimes."
He added, "There are real victims of hate crimes, and I just hope that people don't treat them with skepticism."
Johnson said that the investigation is ongoing.
"[Smollett] still has a presumption of innocence and he still has his opportunity in court if he chooses to go that route," Johnson said.
"There's a lot more evidence that hasn't been presented yet that doesn't support the version that he gave us. There's still a lot of video evidence, physical evidence, and testimony that doesn't support what he said happened."