Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday that Empire actor Jussie Smollett sent himself a threatening letter because he was dissatisfied with his salary on the hit FOX drama.
JUST IN: Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson: Jussie Smollett "paid $3,500 to stage this attack…The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary." https://t.co/5AiMcfe6iH pic.twitter.com/0za7CEbVtv
— ABC News (@ABC) February 21, 2019
Smollett turned himself in and was arrested early 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.
“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 whispers about Smollett’s account started with reports that he had not fully cooperated with police after telling authorities he was attacked. Then detectives in a city bristling with surveillance cameras could not find video of the beating. Later, two brothers were taken into custody for questioning but were released after two days, with police saying they were no longer suspects. Johnson said Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 to stage the attack.
Following three weeks of mounting suspicions, Smollett 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 Jan. 29 beating.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.