A prosecutor on Wednesday told jurors that actor Jussie Smollett staged an attack on himself in Chicago in 2019 for publicity before lying to police about the matter.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb said that the former “Empire” actor’s alleged lies caused Chicago Police to spend precious resources and time on investigating an alleged hate crime that turned out to be falsified. Smollett, who is black, has maintained that someone put a noose around his neck and yelled slurs at him.
“Besides being against the law it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country,” Webb said before adding that earlier this week, Smollett lied to jurors when he took the stand in his defense.
Smollett “at the end of the day he lacks any credibility whatsoever,” he told the panel in his closing arguments. The actor faces six felony counts for making what prosecutors allege was a false police report about the alleged attack—as well as disorderly conduct charges.
Webb said that Smollett had a “theory” that if he alleged he was attacked by white people, it’s a “more real hate attack.” But Webb told the jury that the “Osundairo brothers are not white and you know that,” referring to two Nigerian-American brothers who both testified last week that they attacked the actor at his request, according to reporters inside the courtroom.
Webb also noted that during the alleged attack, which occurred at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019, it was one of the coldest nights in years. In late January of that year, a cold front from the Arctic Circle descended on much of the United States, bringing record low temperatures in some areas, including the Midwest region.
Smollett previously told people he left his apartment to get eggs at a nearby Walgreens location.
“That makes no sense and that is false testimony,” Webb said Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
During his cross-examination of Smollett on Tuesday, Webb showed private messages Smollett sent to Abimbola Osundairo earlier in the evening of the alleged assault via the social media app Instagram, when Smollett’s flight home to Chicago was delayed.
They included a message about 90 minutes before the alleged assault that indicated he had arrived in Chicago. Smollett first denied he sent the messages, but acknowledged them after Webb showed that he had. Smollett said he was arranging a workout.
Webb also questioned why Smollett didn’t turn over his cellphone to police or give them a DNA sample or access to his medical records to help with the investigation. Smollett testified he doesn’t trust Chicago police, and that he was concerned about his privacy.
While under oath on Monday, Smollett testified that he did not orchestrate the alleged attack and accused the Osundairo brothers of having other motivations.
Smollett’s attorneys are scheduled to make their closing arguments later Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.