Chicago police have additional evidence against Empire actor Jussie Smollett that they have not shared with the public, including “physical evidence, video evidence and testimony,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts this morning.
“Let me tell, you, Robin, there’s a lot more evidence that hasn’t been presented yet, and does not support the version he gave,” Johnson said (watch the video below). “There’s still a lot of physical evidence, video evidence and testimony that just simply does not support his version of what happened.”
The disclosure of additional evidence followed ABC News’ obtaining and posting a copy of the $3,500 check allegedly written by Smollett to Abimbola Osundairo, one of the two brothers who now say they were paid that amount by Smollett to stage the phony attack. In the memo line of the check appear the words: “5 week Nutrition/Workout program (Don’t Go).”
“Don’t Go” is the title of an upcoming music video that Smollett apparently had been training for with the assistance of Osundairo, a body-building sometime actor with whom Smollett is thought to have worked out. The check is dated Jan. 23, 2019, six days before the Jan. 29 attack incident.
Johnson, who on Friday delivered an impassioned, occasionally angry summary of the Smollett case during a press conference, including the police department’s assertions that the actor staged the supposedly racist and homophobic attack in an effort to boost his career and get a raise for his work on Empire.
Today, Johnson explained what Roberts called his “passionate” delivery: “I grew up in the tail end of the Civil Rights era,” Johnson said, adding that he was raised in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing projects. “The symbolism of the noose is very offensive,” Johnson said, referring to the rope that Smollett said had been placed around his neck during the alleged attack.
“There are real victims of crimes of that nature, hate crimes, and I hope that people don’t treat those with skepticism,” Johnson said, repeatedly reminding GMA viewers that Smollett has the “presumption of innocence” until his “day in court, if he goes that route.”
“It’s important for people to recognize that it’s not the Chicago Police Department saying he did something,” Johnson said. “It’s the evidence, the facts and the witnesses that are saying this.”
Smollett has denied the criminal charges.
That presumption of innocence was emphasized yesterday in an Instagram post by Smollett’s Empire co-star Terrence Howard, who posted a short, sweet video of Smollett playing with a baby during what appears to be an airplane flight. “All your lil homies got you… We love the hell outta you,” Howard, who plays Empire‘s Lucious Lyon, father to Smollett’s Jamal.
When an Instagram follower criticized Smollett in the comment section of Howard’s post, Howard responded: “sorry you feel that way but that’s the only Jussie that I know. That Jussie that I know could never even conceive of something so unconscious and ugly. His innocence or judgement is not for any of us to decide. Stay in your lane and my lane is empathy and love and compassion for something that I’ve called my son for 5 years. It’s God’s job to judge and it is ours to love and hope, especially for those that we claim to have loved. There’s nothing more harmful than a fake friend. Real talk.”
Here is today’s GMA segment:
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.