After being charged with making a false police report and released on $100,000 bond, Actor Jussie Smollett returned to the set of his Fox show “Empire” and begged fellow cast members for forgiveness while swearing he is innocent, according to sources who spoke to TMZ.
“I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this,” Smollett told the cast, TMZ reports.
The apology reportedly moved Smollett to tears and he had to leave the set and come back after collecting himself.
“It was obvious Jussie had been crying a lot, so producers said he would have to come back later. He did, and we’re told he is currently shooting the scene,” the TMZ source said.
According to the police, Smollett staged the attack because he was unsatisfied with his $1 million salary. Smollett wrote a $3,500 check to two Nigerian-American brothers who were extras on “Empire,” Abel and Ola Osundairo, to carry out the hoax crime. The bit of street theater included a noose, bleach, and a pair of plain red hats made to resemble ones worn by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Smollett claimed that his “attackers” tied the noose around his neck, splashed him with bleach, and yelled “This is MAGA country,” a reference to the acronym of Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a press conference on Feb. 21. “I’m offended by what’s happened and I’m also angry. This publicity stunt is a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Johnson also referenced the media frenzy that followed Smollett’s allegations. The police chief said the news media relied entirely on Smollett’s account and shoveled blame, without evidence, on Trump supporters and the president.
“Celebrities, news commentators, and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor,” he said. Many of those who reacted initially have declined to respond to the update, while others have said it didn’t matter that Smollett appeared to make up claims of an attack.
I tracked down surveillance of the Osundairo’s buying supplies before “attack”
Sources say Jussie Smollet told brothers what to buy.
Countless phone calls placed for this.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 20, 2019
Two weeks before the incident, Smollett received a threatening letter that featured a stick figure with curly hair with a noose around its neck and a death threat. The envelope was filled with white powder, which investigators said was crushed Tylenol. Police now say Smollett mailed the letter to himself and orchestrated the attack.
Chicago police assigned a dozen detectives to the case who followed leads from a grainy surveillance video to identify the Osundairo brothers. Investigators managed to pin down a rideshare cab the brothers use and traced the payment to one of their personal accounts.