Jussie Smollett is officially a suspect in his own attack case.
On Wednesday (February 20), Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Gugilemi announced the case update in a tweet. "Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by
#ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony)," he wrote. "Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury."
If charged the felony carries a maximum 3-year prison sentence.
As previously reported, the Empire star claimed he was assaulted in Chicago on January 29 by two men wearing ski masks. He said he had just arrived in the city from New York and made a late-night run to a Subway when someone yelled: "Aren't you that f**got 'Empire' n**ga?" Jussie claimed the two attackers then proceeded to jump him, put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him. However, following a number of discrepancies in his story, it is now believed the 36-year-old actor paid his alleged attackers to jump him.
Sources told TMZ on Wednesday Jussie wrote a $3,500 check to his alleged attackers — brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo — before he incident. While he wrote on the memo line of the check that it was for training, the insiders connected to the brothers are reportedly saying Jussie was indeed paying for training, but he threw in more money than they were owed.
Over the weekend, two police officers told CNN that Jussie's alleged attackers are cooperating with law enforcement after reportedly providing evidence Jussie set the whole thing up. "We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has, in fact, shifted the trajectory of the investigation," Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement provided toThe Hollywood Reporter. He also tweeted, "While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what's been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident."
Jussie lawyers, however, continue to deny he had any role in his attack. "As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," the said in a recently released statement. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
As a result of the varying stories, Jussie's case is now heading to a Grand Jury, where, as TMZ previously reported, "the focus is presenting evidence that could lead to a felony indictment against Jussie for allegedly filing a false police report." Most recently, the FBI confirmed that they are working with the US Postal Service to look into whether Jussie was involved in writing/creating the threatening letter that was sent to him prior to his attack. The letter contained racist and homophobic threats as well as white powder that was later determined to be aspirin.
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