Chicago Police Chief: Jussie Smollett Likely Scratched, Bruised His Own Face

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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images/ABC

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday that the scratches and bruises on Empire actor Jussie Smollett are likely “self-inflicted.”

“As far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on his [Smollett’s] face were most likely self-inflicted,” Johnson told reporters in a press conference.

The Chicago police chief on Thursday detailed how Smollett staged a racist and homophobic attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career.

Before the attack, Smollett also sent a threatening letter that targeted himself to the studio in Chicago where “Empire” is shot, Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

Smollett turned himself in and was arrested earlier Thursday to face accusations that he filed a false police report when he told authorities he was attacked in Chicago by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck, police said. Smollett was expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon.

“He took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson told reporters at a news conference.

“This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve,” he later added.

The FBI has been investigating the letter sent before the attack. Johnson would not say whether Smollett could face charges for that.

Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, which make Empire, issued a statement Thursday saying, “We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

In less than a month, Smollett went from being the seemingly sympathetic victim of a hate crime to being accused of fabricating the entire thing. The 36-year-old was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct, a charge that could bring up to three years in prison and force the actor, who is black and gay, to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of a January 29 beating.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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