Written by By Staff Writer
Actor Jussie Smollett reported that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago on January 29. Two weeks later, he was arrested and booked for disorderly conduct.
Chicago police are investigating Smollett for filing a false police report.
Smollett’s friend Cheyenne Flores said in a statement Wednesday night that Smollett “committed no crime. His was a loving, caring, innocent victim of circumstance.”
The actor’s good friend and “Empire” co-star, Taraji P. Henson, has not commented.
Here are some of the key moments in the reporting and investigation since Smollett’s reported attack:
7:30 a.m. Jan. 29
According to an initial police report, Smollett was attacked in a case of “two unknown assailants” shouting racial and homophobic slurs. The attack lasted several minutes. Smollett “was uncooperative with officers” and “had abrasions and swelling to his face.”
10:30 a.m. Jan. 29
The “Empire” actor filed a report with Chicago police. “We now know that this was a staged event,” Commander Robert Pritchard of the Chicago Police Department’s Robbery Investigative Unit said at a press conference that morning. Pritchard added that, while Smollett did sustain “injuries,” they weren’t significant enough to require medical attention. Pritchard said detectives are still “evaluating” surveillance footage, searching for evidence and speaking to anyone who was “in the area” at the time of the attack.
10:53 a.m. Jan. 29
One of Smollett’s managers, Brandon Z. Moore, contacted police with an update. Moore told Pritchard that he and Smollett were inside a Subway restaurant when a man identified as “Jussie’s manager” — who was seated outside with the actor and Moore at the time — approached the group. When the actor asked the man if he knew about the “MAGA” hats, which are used by President Donald Trump, a conversation quickly turned to the “Jussie’s manager” racial slurs, then the attackers hurled homophobic slurs at the group. The men then hit the actor and pummeled him, striking him in the head with a “couple of objects,” before fleeing, police say.
11:18 a.m. Jan. 29
Chicago police said they interviewed the actor, but did not immediately arrest him. At press conferences, Pritchard said “we’re going to take the facts as they are and we’re going to follow the evidence where it leads us. As it is an ongoing investigation, we won’t be commenting any further.”
11:55 a.m. Jan. 29
Police announced that Chicago detectives have developed leads in the case. Smollett could be formally charged with filing a false police report, Pritchard said. He added that the Smollett team has been cooperative with police. Police also released a surveillance image of two men in the area at the time of the alleged attack.
1:02 p.m. Jan. 29
Chicago police announced that they had arrested two suspects in connection with the attack. Moore confirmed to CNN that two Nigerian brothers were being questioned about the attack and were not Smollett’s attackers.
1:36 p.m. Jan. 29
Smollett posted a message about the attack to Instagram, and addressed his attackers.
“The vile and hate filled attack against me last night in Chicago was an unprovoked violent & hateful crime,” he wrote. “I will work with authorities to bring these offenders to justice and demand that they receive the punishment they deserve. My body, my mind & my soul are strong but so are the hateful and violent forces that seek to tear us down. I have faith that love can overcome all. I’m grateful for the love & light in my life today, & every day.”
2:20 p.m. Jan. 29
In a video posted to Instagram and verified by CNN, the actor speaks directly to his attackers.
“My whole life I’ve been fighting for equality,” he says. “I just want to tell you, ‘Yo, I love you. I forgive you and I forgive anyone who took the coward way out of this situation.'”
He also clarified that the “MAGA hat” in the video was “a President Donald Trump hat” because he is a supporter of the President.
This story has been updated to reflect statements from Smollett and his friend, Cheyenne Flores.