Local fans of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, who was recently charged with making a false police report, say they're disappointed he took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
In the initial report about the alleged hate attack, the openly gay black actor claimed to police that he'd been physically attacked on the street in his downtown Chicago neighborhood around 2 a.m. local time on January 29 by two black-clad, masked men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs, doused him with an "unknown chemical substance" and left him with a rope around his neck.
The 38-year-old's arrest on charges he filed a false police report over his account to authorities about an attack on a downtown Chicago street last month hasn't yet slowed down his Hollywood career.
February 13 - In an interview with ABC News that aired on "Good Morning America", Smollett said he was angry that some people doubted his account of the alleged attack. Jason Styles is a black gay man who lives in the Denver area. "The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election", Smollett's legal team said in a statement Thursday. Johnson alleged that the actor paid $3,500 to stage an attack because he was "dissatisfied" with his Empire salary. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense".
The person at the meeting said they were shocked and dismayed that Smollett stuck to his story of innocence. "Their first statement-they exclusively said that, said they're investigating it as a victim case", Stafford said on MSNBC.
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In the press conference, Johnson revealed more details about the alleged hate hoax, including that investigators believe Smollett staged the attack and the fake hate letter because he felt that he deserved better pay for his role on "Empire". "I know how hard it's been for our city and our nation to come together".
"As I heard the story, knowing that 90 percent of cases where victims reports are real, I believed Jussie as did a lot of the people in the community", Alexander said.
"When anyone makes false claims to police, it not only diverts resources away from serious investigations but it makes it more hard for other victims of crime to come forward", Harris wrote on Twitter.
Johnson gave credit to his detectives for a "patient and deliberate" investigation that he said began with giving Smollett the benefit of the doubt and eventually uncovered the truth after weeks of combing through video evidence and following up on leads. He is facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct, and was released on a $100,000 bond.
Smollett is due back in court March 14 when he is expected to enter his plea.