AceShowbiz - Chicago police chief Eddie Johnson is defending the handling of Jussie Smollett's criminal case, insisting investigators have "a lot more evidence" to prove he allegedly staged his own attack.
The "Empire" star is facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, amid claims suggesting he orchestrated the hate crime, which reportedly took place outside his Chicago apartment on 29 January.
In a press conference last week, ends February 22, the Police Superintendent alleged Smollett had paid brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo $3,500 (£2,700) to help him pull off the hoax in the hope it would boost his career and salary, even though the actor/singer notes on a cheque issued to Abimbola that the funds were for a five-week nutrition and workout programme ahead of a music video. The Nigerian siblings have since claimed the money was actually payment for them to beat Smollett up.
Questions have been raised about the physical evidence collected against Jussie, whose attorneys have slammed prosecutors for having "trampled upon" their client's presumption of innocence before the case gets to court, but the city's top cop is standing by his detectives' work.
In an interview on U.S. breakfast show "Good Morning America" on Monday, February 25, Johnson revealed there is "a lot more evidence that hasn't been presented yet" to back up their case against Smollett, and he argues it's not just the actor's word against the brothers."
"It's important for people to recognise it's not the Chicago police saying he (Smollett) did something, it's the evidence, the facts, and the witnesses that are saying this, so our job is to investigate it and bring the facts and evidence to the state," he said.
Johnson concluded, "He still has the presumption of innocence and he will get his opportunity in court, if he chooses to go that route."
Smollett maintains his innocence. He is currently free on $100,000 (£77,000) bail.
If convicted, he faces up to three years behind bars.