Jussie Smollett’s lawyers maintained Thursday that he has “impeccable character and integrity” and was “betrayed” by the legal system, despite mounting evidence from authorities that the actor staged a hate attack on himself.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” Smollett’s lawyers said.
“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock, in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably on the eve of a mayoral election.”
The statement goes on to say that the 36-year-old TV actor “fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
The “Empire” star — charged with staging a hate crime and filing a false police report about it, claiming he was the victim — was released on $100,000 bond Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson blasted Smollett and said the actor staged the Jan. 29 attack because he was not satisfied with his salary.
“This announcement today recognized ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger and racism to promote his career,” Johnson said.
“I’m left hanging my head and asking why? Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? 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?”