The Chicago police chief who arrested Jussie Smollett for staging a racist attack on himself said Friday that he would have released the actor if he had apologized and admitted he was lying from the start.
Eddie Johnson, head of the Chicago Police Department in 2019, would not have brought charges against the “Empire” actor if he had simply admitted that he had made it all up, he told “Morning in America.”
“I want people to understand this. This was not the most heinous crime of the century. He did not kill anyone. It didn’t blow up a building, ”Johnson said.
“We would have been more than happy with just an apology at the end of everything we found out, but for whatever reason, he just wanted to go down this path that he was actually a victim.”
Smollett was convicted Thursday of five counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report claiming that he had been targeted by a pair of racist and homophobic attackers in January 2019.
While on the case, Johnson, who was later fired for misconduct in December 2019 after he was found drunk in a parked cruiser, said he quickly learned that Smollett was lying about being brutalized.
The former high-ranking police officer said a video showing the actor with a noose around his neck at his home, long after the crime was committed, was the first red flag.
“I have to be honest, when I first saw the video of him in his apartment with the rope around his neck, I was concerned because I don’t think there are many black people in America with a rope around his neck and they wouldn’t want to do it right away. . take it off, ”said Johnson, who is also black.
“And the way he handled it so nonchalantly gave me cause for concern. But he would not allow the police department to turn him into a criminal until the evidence was so overwhelming, “he said.
He added: “Using a symbol like a rope to promote yourself is simply inconceivable to me.”
Another suspicious sign was that Smollett’s Subway tuna sandwich, with which he told police he had been walking home at the time of the attack, was still in good shape after the alleged beating.
“He comes back, he’s targeted in an alleged hate crime, and throughout this whole fight, they bleached him, when he got up and walked into his apartment building, he got up and still had that Subway sandwich with him. That doesn’t happen, ”Johnson said.
“When people are attacked like this, whatever belongings they have, they usually leave it until the police can return with them because they are afraid,” he added.
“This guy had the sandwich in his hand and they had never touched it. That was a real turning point for us that something was wrong, “he said.
Johnson said police and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel were angered by the case because Smollett “blemished our city” and wasted police “manpower.”
But he said he still “set out” to treat Smollett as a victim until the evidence was undeniable.
“As the days went by and we started to get that video back, it became pretty obvious that something was wrong,” Johnson said.
The turning point was when he arrested and interviewed brothers Abimbola and Abel Osundairo, who said that Smollett had paid them to “pretend to be beating him.”
“When we arrested them and brought them in, when I saw the videos of their statements, then I could no longer protect [Smollett]Johnson said.