Smollett took advantage of the 'pain and anger of racism' to promote career: Police

The "Empire" actor was arrested in Chicago early Thursday morning for allegedly filing a false report of a crime, police said.
22:03 | 02/21/19

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Transcript for Smollett took advantage of the 'pain and anger of racism' to promote career: Police
This is an ABC news special. George Stephanopoulos. Tell police about to hold a press conference on justice won't let wanna show you the room right now in police superintendent Eddie Johnson about to speak. Good morning everyone. Before I get started. On why we are here you know as I look out into the crowd I just wish. That the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention. Because that's who really deserves the amount of attention that we giving to this particular incident. This morning. Are coming you not only asked the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. But also as a black man who spent his entire life living in the city of Chicago. I know the racial divide that exists here. I know how hard to stand for our city and I nation to come together. And also know the disparities. And I know the history. This announcement today. Recognizing this. That empire actors Jesse small let took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I'm let. Pang in my head and asking why. Why would anyone especially an African American man used the symbolism. Of a nukes. To make false accusations. How could someone. Look at the hatred and suffering associated. With the assemble. And see an opportunity to manipulate this symbol to further his own public profile. How can an individual. Who's been embraced by the city Chicago. Turnaround slap everyone. In this city in the face by making these false chart planes. Bogus police reports. Calls real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim. Who's in need of support by police and and investigators as well as the citizens of this city. Chicago hosts one of the largest pride parades in the world and we're proud. Of that. As a police department and also as a city. We do not. Know we ever tolerate hate and I've city. Whether that hate is based on an individual's sexual orientation. Race or anything else. I'm offended. By what's happened and I'm also angry. I love the city of Chicago. And the Chicago Police Department warts and off. But this publicity stunt was a Scottish Chicago didn't aren't as certainly didn't deserve. The make things worse. Accusations within this phony attack. Received national attention for weeks. Celebrity's. News commentators. And even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor. First. No let attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial and homophobic and political language. When that didn't were. Snow let paid 3500. Dollars. The stage this attack in drag Chicago's reputation. Through the motive in the process. And why. The star was orchestrated by slim lead because he was dissatisfied with the salary. But he concocted a story about being attacked. Not city has problems we know that. We have problems that have effective people from all walks of life. And we know that. But to put the national spotlight on Chicago for something that is both egregious and untrue it's simply shameful. I'm also concerned about what this means moving forward to hate crimes. Now of course the Chicago Police Department will continue to investigate. All reports of these types of incidents with the same amount of bigger that we do this. My concern is that hate crimes would now publicly be met with a level of skepticism. That previously didn't look didn't happen. That's say it. Some of that was treated as a victim throughout this investigation. Until we received Evan asked their lives detectives in another direction. I couldn't be more proud. Of unrelenting detective work that went into this investigation. But could be more proud of every investigative played apartment. Detective work that we saw in this case is indicative of the work that I detectives do every day and this city. This case in particular. Involved hours of video evidence. Which when combined with old fashioned police work uncovered the truth. These detectives deserves all the credit in the world for carefully analyzing the leads and evidence for weeks before coming to their conclusion. I'd also like that like to thank the FBI. For their help in this investigation. The FBI's partnership with CPD has been pivotal in this particular case. Our only hope that the truth about what happened receives the same amount of attention that the hopes did. I'll continue to pray but his troubled young man who resorted to both drastic and illegal tactics. To gain attention. I'm also continue to pray for our city asking that we can move forward from this and begin to heal. Now I'd like to call up commander Edward like Mickey who parts than live this patient and deliberate investigation. To walk everyone through how this police department arrived at this point. Good morning everyone my name is Edward what Nicky I'm the commander of the area central detective division. I'm here to answer questions. OK don't want to watch just corrected me didn't give please forgive beer. I'm supposed to go through the timeline of our investigation. If so. As though he here's where we are. It as you all Knoll. And the early morning of February 29 yet 2 o'clock in the morning Jesse small act reported that he was the victim of a hate crime. Detectives responded to the incident and that he and interviewed him eventually at northwestern hospital. Where he reported to us they act. They act the the tool. To. Offenders. Yelled racial and homophobic and political. The statements at him. And beyond put a noose around his neck and threw bleach on them. And then fled from the area. We learned at the time they act that. Jesse was not hurt other then scratches on his face maybe some bruising but no broken ribs are serious injuries. So we starter and a half full scale investigation into this hate crime a very serious crime in the anywhere. We we. Quickly following two persons of interest and and video. They act. Yet we believed were the likely offenders in this case. We initially put out. Be seeking to identify and we got this out in that community alert. We then started searching the area for video cameras and witnesses that could help us with our investigation. During that time frame we. We interviewed are. Over a hundred. Individuals. In a canvas of the area and a follow canvas as our investigation expanded. We located approximately. Thirty. Fry if all of our Chicago police hide cameras. In the area in the knee areas that we determined these two. These two persons of in tres fled. We additionally found over twenty private sector cameras. And I gotta say that that was that was super useful in this investigation. The city came together to investigate and help the police with this crime. It was because of these. I'd cameras our investment in in in two technology in the city of Chicago. And the the great. Assistance from the community and giving us those other cameras. That led us to a really solid timeline. Of where our two persons of interest winds. Seoul in short we are able to track them. Initially. Initially. Forward. So after the crime we were able to see that they fled. In a part tickle or direction and eventually gotten to a camp. Our investigators located at JFK have interviewed the cab driver got some video odd that Kia. Follow Becky have using all of these. Surveillance cameras that are located throughout the city the pied cameras. To an area up on the north side where they abruptly stop the K. Got out and walked on what. Again the community came together to provide us with security foot footage from their private cameras. Seoul at that point. We then started tracking these two persons of interest backwards. Backwards to where are they came from Seoul. We we followed them walking around. And eventually back to where they had gotten out of a K out. So that was another individual that we had to interview and another individual where we sought video. We continue to track that cab back to the point where they camp was track down by. Our two purses of a contrast in a ride share car. We then followed up on the ride share and and that was the lead that we needed in order to identify. The two persons of interest. At that point we had a a real good timeline of where these from people went. We were able to put a name to both of these individuals. And it it was at that time that we started. Started looking at where they went up right right right after this of acts. We tracked them to going to O'Hare airport. And jumping on a flight to Nigeria. Our our investigation. Led us to determine. That they had purchased a round trip ticket with them returning to Chicago on the thirteenth. So approximately two weeks after it the incidents. So that gave us a couple weeks to try to continue to. To follow up and any investigative lead any any investigative lead that would. Help us try to determine what happened in this incident. Seoul while we were waiting for them to return. We'd AXA Q did it. We executed. Over fifty search warrants and subpoenas. Working with our partners in the State's attorney's office. Phone records. Social media records and records on individuals. To help us illuminate. The likely. Facts debt occurred in this event. Seoul. Moving forward to the thirteenth. We had a team in place. Working with the FBI. Customs. And and our partners out at the airport airport police helped us out tremendously. And we. We were able to locate and identify these two individuals he's to person of interest when they entered back in the car street into the country customs. We. Took them into custody. We read them their rights and they both initially asked for an attorney. They were brought to area central detective headquarters so that we could we could process them. And it was at that time that they're attorney showed up I think you've all seen her on the news the last couple days. She came to us and in doubt after speaking with these two people men tres. She said that something smelled fishy she did not think that they were at the offenders as were reported. She worked with us very very closely to get to the point where she came to me and said you really need to talk to these guys. I I'm going to allow them to give view a video. Interview with us president and we're gonna have you hear their story they are not offenders they are victims. Was at that time that this investigation started to spin and in a completely new direction. You've heard some of the statements that they act there are lawyer nick Schmidt has made it. And he and it was at that time that we took the information that these two individuals provided to us and we. Substantiated. The timeline and the details. That be gave to us in this interview. We were able to substantiate those things. We worked very very closely with the State's attorney's office we had been working very very closely. With the State's attorney's office for over a week at that point. And it was it was then. And fifteen. Friday the fifteenth. After after approximately. 47 hours a law all of them being in custody and hours of them up. Meeting with boss and telling us their story and documenting their story. Did we release them without charging and I classified them no longer has suspects or persons of interest and as witnesses. So as is typical with any investigation. One would typically locked. These. Witnesses in to a grand jury statement. Monday was a holiday the eighteenth Tuesday was the first day that we could we could attempt to do that. Soul we scheduled. We scheduled a B appointment with the grand jury working again very closely with the State's attorney's office in this and as you know what the last minute. Jesse's lawyers called in said that they had evidence to postpone the grand jury that they wanted to provide to us. It was at that time that they called us and I and that with them with a team of our detectives. And essentially. They gave us no new information. Soul I reported that back to the State's attorney's office and it was at that time they act we we. Locked in a bold. All of these witnesses to the grand jury. I'm told they did it did an excellent job. And then the State's attorney's office approved charges against Jesse for it be class four. Disorderly conduct false police report. We met where it. The with Jesse's attorneys and we arranged for him to turn himself in. And as you'll Knoll he turned himself in gat 5 o'clock this morning in the first district in Chicago. Today at 138. Jesse will be going in front of a bond court judge and the by court hearing will be conducted yet. 26 in California. They again. Well if it was uneventful he showed up of course with his attorneys and a few other individuals but it it went smoothly. Because that's typically what we do last week. Once we believe that witnesses. Valuable witness is incredible and we take them to the grand jury to lock their testimonies. The. There you have it right there the Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson detailing. What happened just a smaller here in Chicago who's now under arrest of filing a false police report. Saying that he took advantage the pain and anger of racism to float his career essentially a cordon. Evidence developed by the police are saying the justice will let. Created this whole hoax in order to get a race. On the show empire bureau chief legal analyst Dan Abrams those were powerful works from the police who Purdue. Is still learning the language he's using he's calling it a publicity stunt a phony attack choreographed by an actor. You don't hear the sort of words we usually hear alleged suspicion of this is an angry superintendent. Who's going directly after the current. Jesse select here sick he's almost take it personally I mean you could talk he started this by talking about being a black man living in Chicago. And how important. This news center as a slap in the face and people should absolutely so you can tell how seriously they're taking it and now we learn a little bit more. About the time lot. First the ball we've now learned for certain that the letter that was sent to fox and to empire. Threatening Jesse small that they now believe was sent by him. That exposes him now to a possible federal crime as well. Tonight first you've got the state crime which is here in Illinois that's the folly of a false police report. In theory there could be a charge would regard to mailing a threatening letter. Using the federal mail so we'll see if that co if anything comes of that but that's an important confirmation. And development. Also we learned exactly how they were able to find these two Brothers. And interestingly she to both of us as we were talking about is the fact that they're characterizing them as victims. And even though they and the police said they were paid 3500 dollars grad I just is less that would suggest that they didn't know what he was gonna do that's one of the big mysteries we have right now wanted to quickly leave the pilgrim there in Chicago really see just a small let. In a courtroom this afternoon. That's right at this partly due that he has been transported to the courthouse waiting for that bond hearing which has about host to happen. At 130 this afternoon and we heard of them police superintendent and the detectives lay out exactly what happened in the the moments before and after this alleged attack. Occurred they were talking about the fact that they used to more than thirty city cameras and when he. Flight that. Cameras surveillance cameras to track these every step step. One find out who these two Brothers were but then also to figure out where they win it and that's how they were able to get to them then explaining. That the brothers' attorneys then came to police and said hey guys there's more to this story then you know. And that ultimately is what brought this case. Target the Brothers they lock in their testimony to agree entries here with Dan Abrams again you talked about the anger. The police superintendent for the way he started out that press conference saying I wish the families of the victims of gun violence in Chicago we get this much attention well. And and you know look he's now using the fact that the public is watching this to say we've got bigger problems. In Chicago. And I think that's part of the issue here right is the amount of resources that had to be devoted to this you talk about this kind of hate crime that occurred they devoted enormous amounts. Of person now all of detectives at Sadr up to try to investigate this all for nothing so we'll police superintendent's perspective there's nothing more infuriating. Then to have spent this kind of time this kind of money put up a state as he was talking about on the city of Chicago. All based on what he characterized as a phony attack and how sad for victims of other crimes other hate crimes who come forward in the future one and that's that's the hope the hope is that this doesn't impact. That the hope is that people don't a become reluctant to come forward. Because of this and I and I think it is important. It is important to note that they were able to assess how fake this was so it's a warning to people don't try this. You're gonna get caught up. And hopefully that says to the people who have the real. Issues happen to them. The system will take users. What it did there in Chicago just let has been arrested can appear in court this afternoon for perpetrating a hoax. Where to cover this all morning long on EBC news live right now. Where to go back to Good Morning America. This has been a special. For me he's.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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