STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Chicago Police Chief Angry Over Alleged Smollett Hoax

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson took it personally when detectives determined that 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett allegedly lied about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack .

Posted: Feb 21, 2019 12:12 PM

By TAMMY WEBBER , Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson took it personally when detectives determined that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett allegedly lied about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack .

Speaking Thursday at a news conference, Johnson said he was angry and offended that another black man would exploit racial divisions for his own gain — and smear the reputation of a city Johnson has worked his entire career to protect.

"I know the racial divide that exists here. I know how hard it's been for our city and our nation to come together. And I also know the disparities and I know the history," Johnson said. "'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."

Johnson, a lifelong Chicagoan, grew up in some of the city's toughest and most segregated neighborhoods. He lived in Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing project until he was 9, and then in the South Side neighborhood of Washington Heights.

After nearly 30 years as a police officer, Johnson was asked to lead the department in 2016 after former Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired following the release of dashcam footage showing a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager 16 times. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hoped to repair the trust between the police and residents, and Johnson promised to do his best.

His son, who gave Johnson a kidney in 2017 after the superintendent battled a potentially life-threatening condition, recently joined the police force.

Smollett's claims thrust the city back into an international spotlight it didn't want.

Smollett, who is black and gay, told police he was physically attacked by two men who shouted homophobic and racial slurs at him before beating him up and throwing some kind of chemical on him the early morning of Jan. 29. He also said his attackers shouted, "This is MAGA country," an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," and looped a rope around his neck.

But his story fell apart when brothers Abimbola "Abel" Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo — bodybuilders and aspiring actors who Smollett knew from the "Empire" set and the gym — told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career.

Smollett was arrested Thursday morning and was expected to appear in court later in the day.

"Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" Johnson said. "How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? 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?"

Johnson has led the police department as violence in some neighborhoods spiked. He recently pointed to double-digit decreases in gun violence over the past two years as proof of progress. On Thursday, he began his remarks by saying that the families of gun violence deserved more attention than Smollett.

He also noted that the city hosts one of the world's largest gay pride parades every year, and said police take all hate crimes seriously.

"I love the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department, warts and all," Johnson said. "But this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn't earn and certainly didn't deserve."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 42436

Reported Deaths: 655
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9228160
Marion5858108
Washington579076
Umatilla335444
Clackamas313965
Lane239227
Malheur191738
Jackson16846
Deschutes113213
Yamhill99415
Linn81015
Polk65415
Jefferson6049
Morrow5456
Lincoln51713
Union4672
Benton4426
Klamath4113
Douglas3506
Wasco34715
Hood River2771
Josephine2673
Columbia2661
Coos2460
Clatsop2430
Baker1203
Crook1092
Tillamook700
Curry571
Wallowa442
Lake370
Harney230
Sherman190
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 910438

Reported Deaths: 17386
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles3006147000
Riverside667321295
San Bernardino627741072
Orange587251447
San Diego54941870
Kern33881416
Fresno30858436
Sacramento25445484
Santa Clara24313388
Alameda23391461
San Joaquin21630489
Contra Costa18694242
Stanislaus17686397
Tulare17495286
Ventura14300164
Imperial12882336
San Francisco12152140
Monterey1139991
San Mateo11149159
Santa Barbara9814120
Merced9465155
Sonoma9402136
Kings824683
Solano738476
Marin7089128
Madera502074
Placer417857
San Luis Obispo414132
Yolo320759
Butte308752
Santa Cruz280225
Napa196215
Shasta188930
Sutter183712
San Benito144215
El Dorado13284
Yuba129310
Mendocino112921
Tehama8808
Lassen7661
Lake69515
Glenn6573
Nevada6168
Humboldt56710
Colusa5506
Calaveras34218
Amador33016
Tuolumne2714
Inyo22715
Siskiyou1930
Mono1802
Del Norte1781
Mariposa782
Plumas680
Modoc290
Trinity260
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 73°
Brookings
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 78°
Crater Lake
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 65°
Grants Pass
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 68°
Klamath Falls
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 65°
Cold morning, warm afternoon
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Tuesday, October 27 afternoon weather

Image

Tuesday, October 27 morning weather

Image

Suell hopes The Spring League is a springboard to the pros

Image

Monday, October 26th Evening Weather

Image

The Phoenix Animal Hospital Temporarily Relocates

Image

Monday, October 26 afternoon weather

Image

Annual Coats for Kids campaign now underway

Image

Monday, October 26 morning weather

Image

Health Alert: Fall Spices

Image

Sunday, October 25th Evening Weather