‘Empire’ Actor Pleads Not Guilty
Written by Intern Aaron on March 27, 2019
Jussie Smollett, or more popularly known as Jamal Lyon on the show Empire, has pleaded not guilty in a Chicago court on Thursday regarding new charges to the police, falsely stating that Smollett was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault on a city street.
Source: Aol.com via Kimberly Bellware
Last month, the Empire actor had been charged with felony disorderly conduct for reporting a false police report that he was attacked by masked Donald Trump supporters who had beat him, slung a noose around his neck, and poured a liquid chemical on him while they shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him.
This report lead to a 16-count indictment that was returned by the grand jury last Thursday. Smollett is openly black and gay, and also plays a gay musician on Fox’s hip-hop drama. Each of these counts carries a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison as well as a $25,000 fine.
Detectives investigated the incident as a hate crime but local news outlets cited police sources saying it was believed to be a hoax. The Chicago Police Department is currently investigating how information about the alleged attack was leaked to journalists. Fox, in response to these actions, cut Smollett’s character in Empire after he was arrested.
According to the prosecutors, Smollett had written a $35,000 check to two brothers and gave them $100 to purchase the following: rope, ski masks, gloves, and red baseball caps. These items would be used in the supposed attack on January 29.
Police said that Smollett had hoped that the incident would advance his career and secure him a higher salary.
After being recognized from the surveillance footage from the near the scene of the alleged attack, the two brothers were initially arrested on February 13. Police and lawyers stated that one of the brothers had previously appeared with Smollett on Empire. Prosecutors stated that one had supplied Smollett with “designer drugs” in the past. The brothers had confessed to the plot, police said. They then became cooperating witnesses and were released without any charges.
This spurred a wave of support for Smollett on social media platforms, coming from fellow celebrities and Democratic presidential candidates. Others, however, were skeptical of the incident, which Smollett said occurred at around 2 A.M. on a city street during one of the coldest weeks in recent history.
Outside the courthouse on Thursday, about a dozen supporters gathered with signs, chanting that his prosecution was unjust.
In an interview with “Good Morning America” last month, Smollett was angered that people question his story and suggest that racial bias fuels the disbelief.