Police: Jussie Smollett sent himself racist letter, faked attack to boost career

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett surrendered to authorities Thursday morning after he was charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that Smollett is in custody after surrendering to authorities after 5 a.m. Police said they would conduct a news conference at 10 a.m.

The TV actor claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in the Streeterville neighborhood last month, but the investigation turned on Smollett and he's now accused of allegedly orchestrating the attack with two brothers, one an extra on "Empire" and the other Smollett's personal trainer.

Chicago police said in a Thursday news conference that the actor "took advantage of the anger and pain of racism to promote his career."

Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett faked a threatening letter and staged an attack because he was "dissatisfied with his salary."

Police said detectives used more than 100 cameras throughout the city to create an accurate timeline of the alleged crime. They realized it did not add up.

They said Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to carry out the plan.

A police spokesperson said this case is about accountability.

Meanwhile, the attorney representing the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, said they testified in front of a grand jury for hours Thursday. She also said Smollett needs to come clean about what really happened.

"I think that Jussie's conscience is probably not letting him sleep right now, so I think he should unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what actually happened," Schmidt said.

After the news conference, President Donald Trump weighed in on the case.

Smollett's lawyers fired back, releasing a statement saying: "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said they have no comment at this time.

Information from ABC 7 News was used in this report.

Police news conference on Jussie Smollett

Police are speaking about "Empire" star Jussie Smollet's surrender this morning on allegations that he made up an attack on himself. Our coverage continues on Channel 2 Action News at Noon

Posted by WSB-TV on Thursday, February 21, 2019