- Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson appeared on “Good Morning America” on Monday morning to discuss the Jussie Smollett case.
- Smollett, an actor on the TV show “Empire”, was arrested last week. Prosecutors charged him with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report in connection with his allegation that he was targeted in a hate-crime attack in Chicago.
- Johnson said he hopes the case doesn’t cause people to become sceptical of real hate crime victims.
- Smollett denies he staged the attack, and is pleading not guilty.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said he hopes the Jussie Smollett case doesn’t make people sceptical of real hate crime victims.
Johnson discussed Smollett’s recent arrest in an appearance on “Good Morning America” on Monday morning.
The “Empire” actor was charged last week with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report in connection to an incident last month in which he alleged two men beat him, put a noose around his neck, and yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Investigators said they have evidence Smollett staged the attack to garner attention because he was dissatisfied with his salary on “Empire.” Smollett denies he staged the attack, and is pleading not guilty.
On “GMA” Monday morning, Johnson lamented the impact that Smollett’s accusation could have on victims of hate crimes.
“I just hope people don’t judge other folks who are victims of these types of crimes, because this is just one particular incident and that’s the damaging part of it,” Johnson told host Robin Roberts.
He added: “There are real victims of crimes of that nature, hate crimes, and I just hope that people don’t treat them with scepticism.”
Groups that track hate crimes and support victims of them echoed Johnson’s concern.
“There’s a concern that now police, instead of saying, ‘Let me investigate,’ they will say, ‘Hmm, I wonder if this is like the Smollett investigation?'” Southern Poverty Law CenterPresident Richard Cohen told the LA Times. “Victims of any crime shouldn’t be viewed with suspicion and that’s what you worry about as a result of the Smollett case.”
Johnson said more evidence is coming
Johnson also said Chicago Police have collected “a lot more evidence” that hasn’t been presented yet.
ABC News also reported on Monday that they had obtained a copy of the check Smollett wrote to one of the men he said attacked him, and that the memo line of the check said the money was for personal training and nutrition services.
At a press conference announcing the charges last week, Johnson said he was angry and offended by the idea that a black man would stage a hate crime for financial gain, as prosecutors suspect Smollett did.
“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.”
In response to Smollett’s arrest, Fox announced it will remove him from the final two episodes of this season of “Empire”.
- Read more:
- Chicago police released ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett’s mug shot
- How Chicago’s vast network of surveillance cameras helped solve the Jussie Smollett case
- Jussie Smollett reportedly went back to the ‘Empire’ set after appearing in court and told colleagues: ‘I swear to God, I did not do this’
- Jussie Smollett’s character will be removed from the final 2 episodes of this season of ‘Empire’
- Jussie Smollett reportedly makes as much as $US125,000 per episode on ‘Empire’ – and police say he staged an attack because he wanted more money
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