Jussie Smollett: Chicago Police Superintendent Says 'Empire' Actor 'Damaged the City's Reputation'

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson opened up about the charges brought upon Empire actor Jussie Smollett in an interview with Good Morning America on Monday.

Johnson, who spoke passionately about Smollett last week, told Robin Roberts that it was his job as police superintendent to "ensure that the record gets set straight."

Johnson spoke at length about the "damage" he says Smollett did to the city of Chicago and to legitimate victims of racially motivated hate crimes.

Admitting that Chicago and its police department has its own "issues with racism and excessive force," Johnson argued, "We didn't earn this particular incident."

"I just want people to understand that's a damaging thing to do to a city and to a police department," he continued.

"I just hope people don't judge other folks that are victims of these types of crimes because this is just one particular incident. That's the damaging part of it. You damage the city's reputation. We don't need any help with that; we really don't."

Johnson, who said he grew up in the notorious Chicago Cabrini-Green housing project in the "tail end of the civil rights era," said he took the alleged hoax personally.

"The symbolism of a noose is very offensive," he said.

"First and foremost, there are real victims of...hate crimes. And I just hope that people don't treat them with skepticism. This is one particular incident and it has to stand on its own merits."

What's more is that Johnson said the police department has "a lot more evidence that hasn't teen presented yet that doesn't support [Smollett's] version that he gave us."

"There's still a lot of physical evidence, video evidence and testimony that just simply doesn't support his version of what happened," he said Monday morning.

Smollett, who Johnson said "still has the presumption of innocence," was released on $100,000 bail following his court appearance last Thursday after his arrest for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.

Johnson said that Chicago police treated Smollett like a victim until they brought in the Osundairo brothers for questioning and they admitted in the 47th hour of holding that Smollett paid them to carry out the hoax, which was staged to look like a hate crime. Police can legally keep people of interest for just 48 hours without charging them until they must be released.

"We have to maintain the integrity of the investigation, and that's what we did," Johnson explained. "We did not have the facts that support him being involved in it until that 47th hour. It's important for people to recognize, it's not the Chicago police saying he did this — it's the evidence, the facts and the witnesses saying he did this. It's our job to investigate it and bring the evidence and facts to the state."

Despite TMZ's report that the sources said the $3,500 check Smollett issued the Osundairo brothers was for personal training purposes, Johnson maintained in his interview Monday that the check was to "carry out this incident."

1comments

Smollett has denied the claims that he played a role in carrying out the alleged attack as a hoax. Chicago police said they believe Smollett's motive was to get attention, as he was allegedly unhappy with his Empire salary.

FOX announced last week that it dropped Smollett from the cast following the charges against him.