A Cook County grand jury in Chicago, has indicted US television actor Jussie Smollett on 16 counts of felony after filing false report that he was assaulted in a perceived homophobic attack.
The new charges was announced on Friday, March 8, 2019, according to ABC News who also confirmed that they were laid out in separate groups.
First is from his conversation with the police about being the subject of racial and homophobic slurs, getting physically assaulted and having a rope around his neck in addition with exposure to a chemical substance.
The second is related to another interview with the police describing the incident.
Jussie Smollett’s lawyer is Mark Geragos who has represented the likes of Chris Brown and Michael Jackson has described the 16 counts of felony as “prosecutorial overkill” and a “desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal [CPD] investigation launched to investigate the … leaking of false information” in a report by ABC.
While giving a statement to reveal the outcome of an investigation following the alleged attack on Smollett in January, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson accused him of betraying the trust of the city.
“Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?
“How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?”
In the same vein, a spokesperson with the Chicago police shared on Twitter that it will amount to disrespecting the people of the city if the charges against Smollett turn out to be true.
“As Supt Johnson stated, allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful & if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model.
“We stand behind the work of detectives & refer any comment on indictment to prosecutors,” writes Anthony Guglielmi the Chief Communications Officer at the Chicago Police Department.