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Former Chicago police superintendent reveals the moment when he suspected Jussie Smollett was lying

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Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Former Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson is speaking out about the Jussie Smollett case, and although he insists that his department continued to treat Smollett as a victim until the evidence that his alleged attack was staged became overwhelming, he personally suspected something was amiss immediately when he learned that Smollett still had possession of the apparently pristine and untouched Subway sandwich that supposedly occasioned his 2am trip into the polar vortex.

In a Friday interview with NewsNationNow's "Morning in America," Johnson said:


He went to a Subway sandwich shop at like two in the morning to get a sandwich. OK, that’s fine. He comes back gets attacked in a hate crime, supposed hate crime. And during all this scuffle, they poured bleach on him and all of this. When he got up and went into his apartment building, he still had this Subway sandwich. Well, that doesn’t happen. When people get attacked like that whatever belongings they have out there, they usually leave it until the police can go back with them because they’re afraid, This guy had the sandwich in his hand and never been touched.

Johnson did note that, although his training as a detective made him immediately suspicious of Smollett's story at this time, he "still made it a point to treat him like a victim, because you still don't know. You know, and as the days went on and we started recovering that video, it became fairly obvious that something was amiss."

Johnson also stated that a major tip to him was Smollett's behavior concerning the noose that was apparently used in the attack. Johnson told Morning in America, "When I initially saw the video of him in his apartment with the noose around his neck, I was concerned, because I don’t think there are many black people in America that would have a noose around their neck, and wouldn’t immediately take it off. And then the way he was so nonchalant, handling, it gave me pause for concern[.]" Johnson insisted, however, that "I would not let the police department make him an offender until the evidence just got to be so overwhelming. I stopped the department from calling him an offender for quite a while."

Johnson also indicated that, even though both he and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel were incensed at Smollett wasting police department resources, they would never have arrested Smollett if he had merely apologized and admitted wrongdoing.

"Myself and Mayor Emanuel, we were upset at the time that — you stained our city like that and we put all that manpower into it — but... this isn't the heinous crime of the century. You know, he didn't kill anybody, he didn't blow up a building. So, we would have been more than happy with just an apology at the end of all that we uncovered what we did but for some reason, he just wanted to keep going down this road that he was actually a victim," Johnson said.

Johnson added that he was pleased with the verdict and believes that "justice was served."

Johnson retired at the end of 2019 after becoming embroiled in a controversy over being found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV on October 17, 2019. Johnson blamed the incident on his medication, but Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot accused Johnson of having been drinking that evening.

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