Actor Jussie Smollett officially a SUSPECT and could face three years’ jail as cops probe ‘racist attack’ claim

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ACTOR Jussie Smollett is officially suspected of filing a false police report after claiming he was beaten by two white Trump supporters, police announced tonight.

The Empire TV star claimed to have been set upon by racist homophobic thugs who put a noose around his neck and threw bleach in his face in Chicago last month.

Detectives will quiz actor Jussie Smollett after suggesting he staged the elaborate assault, possibly in a bizarre bid to boost his career
BackGrid

Actor Jussie Smollett is suspected of staging an elaborate assault, possibly in a bizarre bid to boost his career[/caption]

Police in Chicago have tonight revealed they are treating Jussie Smollett as a suspect
Twitter

But cops have since cast doubt on the gay black actor’s story – amid suggestions it was a bizarre bid to boost his career.

In a sensational development on Wednesday night, Chicago Police announced Smollett was now being treated as a criminal suspect.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter: “Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony).

“Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.”

He could face up to three years in prison if convicted under local Illinois law.

It comes as new CCTV footage revealed tonight showed two brothers with connections to Smollett buying ski masks, bandannas and red hats just a day before the “attack”.

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CELEB SUPPORT

The shocking twist in the case is just days after A-list celebs flooded social media with their support for the 36-year-old.

Brit catwalk queen Naomi Campbell — who previously starred in hip-hop drama Empire — was one of the first to leap to Smollett’s defence.

Alongside a picture of the two of them, she called on Chicago’s mayor to catch the “despicable people” who had committed this “act of hate”.

Oscar-winner Viola Davis also shared a photo of the actor on Instagram, saying: “OMG!! This is why the LGBTQ community continue to fight to be seen and protected against hate!

“We ALL have to take this racist and homophobic act of violence very personally! My arms are around you @jussiesmollett. You are loved!”

And TV host Ellen DeGeneres, referring to an interview when the actor revealed he was gay, said: “Four years ago, @JussieSmollett came out on my show. I’m sending him and his family so much love today.”

‘MAGA’ ATTACKERS

Smollett, who was treated in hospital, had initially told police that his “attackers” were yelling racial and homophobic slurs.

And they made reference to “MAGA” – the “Make America Great Again” election catchphrase used by President Trump – the actor alleged.

Last week, a tearful Smollett told Good Morning America that he was attacked at 2am while speaking on the phone to his manager.

He said: ““While I was on the phone I heard . . .  I was crossing the intersection . . . I heard ‘Empire!’ I don’t answer to Empire. My name ain’t Empire.”

Smollett, who first rose to prominence in 1992 children’s movie The Mighty Ducks, then said he heard one of them utter a racial slur.

He said: “So I turned around and said, ‘What the f*** did you just say to me?’ I see the attacker masked.”

Getting emotional, Smollett continued: “He said: ‘This MAGA country n*****’. And he punched me in the face so I punched his ass back.”

I noticed the rope around my neck and I started screaming: ‘There is a f***ing rope around my neck


Jussie Smollett

Smollett said they started tussling  and ended up near some stairs, as a second person kicked him in his back.

The actor claimed his attackers ran off then saw his phone had fallen out of his pocket.

His manager Brandon Moore was still on the line and Smollett said he told Brandon he had been jumped.

Then, looking down, Smollett claimed he saw a rope.

He said: “I noticed the rope around my neck and I started screaming: ‘There is a f***ing rope around my neck.’ ”

Choking up, Smollett added: “I will never be the man that this did not happen to. I am forever changed.”

DOUBTS SWIRLING

But doubts about the authenticity of the attack were quickly raised after the actor refused to hand over his phone to detectives.

Cops were also curious as to why the rope was still around Smollett’s neck when they arrived on the scene 30 minutes later.

He also asked responding officers to turn off their body cameras and come into his apartment — because he said he did not want neighbours witnessing the scene.

But frustrated Smollett insisted: “It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more.”

But his story seemingly unravelled after cops arrested two black men with connections to him.

BROS ‘PAID TO CARRY OUT ATTACK’

Brothers Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo, 25, were held last week after leaving the US for a holiday just days after the alleged attack.

Ola — who had worked as an extra on Empire — and Abel were released when officers revealed new evidence had come to light and they were “eager to speak to” Smollett.

Cops are now understood to believe the star paid the men £2,700 to attack him and £390 when they returned from Nigeria.

They reportedly have proof that Smollett directed his “attackers” to buy the rope used in the “assault” at a local store.

CCTV footage revealed tonight shows the pair buying ski masks, gloves, bandannas, sunglasses and red hats the day prior to the “attack”, CBS2 reported.

Sources earlier told website TMZ the trio even REHEARSED   the  assault.

Following their release, the two brothers would only say: “We are not racist. We are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump.”


 

Smollett’s solicitors said in an early statement: “As a victim of a hate crime, Jussie is angered . . . he has now been victimised by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack.”

Empire is set to return to screens in March.

Smollett was supposed to have nine scenes and a big musical number in the penultimate episode — which is being shot now — but five scenes have now reportedly been cut.

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Empire director Lee Daniels shared this image of Jussie on Instagram after the attack but deleted it
Twitter

Empire director Lee Daniels shared this image of Jussie on Instagram after the attack but deleted it[/caption]

Jussie Smollett, second from left, with co-stars from hip-hop drama Empire
AP:Associated Press

Jussie Smollett, second from left, with co-stars from hip-hop drama Empire[/caption]

News of the bizarre twist has made headline news in the US
The Mega Agency

News of the bizarre twist has made headlines in the US[/caption]

Brothers Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola 'Abel' Osundairo, 25, were held by cops and later released
Instagram

Brothers Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo, 25, were held by cops but later released[/caption]

Cops released CCTV footage of two suspects after the ‘attack’ in Chicago
AP:Associated Press

Cops released CCTV footage of two suspects after the ‘attack’ in Chicago[/caption]

Jussie plays gay character Jamal Lyon in the hit show
Jussie plays gay character Jamal Lyon in the hit show

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