Lawyers for Empire star Jussie Smollett blasted what they called an “organized law enforcement spectacle” on Thursday after the actor was arrested, charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police and later freed after posting a $100,000 bond.
“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,” the statement reads.
“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
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The statement came after Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson held a news conference in which he forcefully denounced Smollett’s alleged actions, saying that they offended him and made him angry.
“[Smollett] took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” he said.
“Why would anyone use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How can an individual turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?”
The initial incident saw police take a report that Smollett had been approached by two people who allegedly yelled racial and homophobic slurs and shouted about “MAGA country” in his direction.
The report went on to suggest that the individuals “battered” the actor about the face with their hands before pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him.
One of the individuals was also alleged to have tied a rope around Smollett’s neck.
Now, however, police believe that Smollett staged the whole scene and allegedly instructed two brothers to carry out the attack against him by paying them $3,500.
Two brothers, identified as Olabinjo “Ola” and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo, were held for almost 48 hours and then released.
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The pair provided information that “shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” police said.
—With files from Katie Dangerfield and Andrew Russell
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