News & Politics

Chicago Police Consider 'Empire' Star Jussie Smollett a Suspect in a Felony

(Credit: FS/MediaPunch /IPX)

On Wednesday, Chicago Police officially confirmed to PJ Media that they now consider Empire star Jussie Smollett a suspect in a criminal investigation for filing a false police report. The charge may carry a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years and a fine of up to $25,000.

“Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by Chicago Police for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony),” Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer at the Chicago Police Department, told PJ Media. “Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.”

According to Wolfe & Stec, a criminal defense and family law firm, a class 4 felony may land Smollett up to three years in jail and a fine of $25,000.

“Although a Class 4 felony is the least serious of all felony charges, it still is a serious charge, with serious punishments,” the firm explains on its website. “A prison sentence for a Class 4 felony conviction is 1 to 3 years, and Class 4 felony convictions can also include fines of up to $25,000.”

Smollett claims that on January 29, masked white attackers wearing MAGA hats screamed, “This is MAGA country!” before seizing him, putting a noose around his neck, and pouring an unknown bleach-scented liquid on him. The actor turned over redacted phone records to police, but Guglielmi said those records “do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted,” ABC7 Chicago reported.

Two other pieces of evidence seemed to confirm the idea that the attack was a hoax: a hot sauce bottle with bleach-smelling liquid that emerged after the police sweeps (and may have been planted after the fact), and a record showing the rope in question was purchased by the Osundairo brothers nearby.

On Wednesday morning, CNN reported that Smollett lied to police in Los Angeles, giving a false name in a DUI arrest in 2007.

From the beginning, his story seemed incredible. On the night Smollett claimed to have been attacked, Chicago experienced extremely cold temperatures. The actor also did not remove the noose before going to the hospital.

CNN’s Ryan Young reported that police had spent more than one thousand hours investigating this case. That represents one thousand hours of distraction from the police’s primary job — keeping the peace in Chicago.

Now that Chicago Police officially consider Smollett a suspect, Democrats, Left-wing interest groups, and media figures should expect demands for retractions. Many prominent figures seized on Smollett’s story as evidence of a broad movement of racist and homophobic hatred in America. While horrific attacks do happen, the rush to connect them to Smollett will only delegitimize the groups pushing against such tragedies.

Smollett’s decision to cry wolf will harm real victims, and it also unfairly painted America — and Trump supporters in particular — as hateful. It is extremely important for news of the police investigation against Smollett to spread far and wide.

Facebook has already censored some articles reporting that Smollett’s claims were a hoax. Americans should share stories like this one far and wide, not just because they are true, but because the more Americans share them, the less likely it is that Facebook censorship can silence them.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.