Jussie Smollett at the 2017 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California. (Reuters)
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CHICAGO – Actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested after he was charged with lying to police when he claimed he was attacked and beaten by two masked men shouting racist and homophobic slurs, Chicago police said.
Smollett, a 36-year-old black, openly gay actor on the hip-hop TV drama “Empire,” told police on January 29 that two apparent supporters of United States President Donald Trump had struck him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach over him.
Smollett is in the custody of detectives, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Thursday, adding that authorities would offer more details from their investigation at a news conference.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office approved felony criminal charges against Smollett for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, Guglielmi said late on Wednesday.
Last week, police arrested two brothers who were recognised from surveillance footage of the area where Smollett said the attack occurred. The brothers’ lawyer told local media that her clients knew Smollett from working with him on Empire.
Police released the brothers two days later without charges.
Since the alleged attack, Smollett had received support on social media, including from several celebrities. But some had remained sceptical of the incident, which Smollett said occurred around 2 a.m. on a Chicago street during one of the city’s coldest weeks in recent history.
In an interview with Good Morning America last week, Smollett said he was angry that some people questioned his story, and he suggested the disbelief might come from racial bias. (Reuters)