Empire’s Jussie Smollett faces felony charge for allegedly filing false police report


Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on the Fox series, faces up to three years in prison. Here’s everything we know about his arrest. 

Update 2/22/19: Jussie Smollett’s legal team issued the following statement on Thursday night:

"Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing."

Update 2/21/19: Smollett’s bond has been set at $100,000. The actor appeared in court today after surrendering to authorities, following a charge for disorderly conduct for filing a police report. Smollett is set to return to court on March 14.

Jussie Smollett is under arrest for allegedly filing a false police report and is in custody of detectives in Chicago, Illinois. The Empire actor turned himself in this morning to authorities, following nearly a month of headlines and controversy surrounding an alleged hate crime.

Smollett’s attorney released a statement today on the charges:

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

According to the police, Smollett’s charges result in him facing a class four felony charge, which could mean up to three years of prison time.

On January 29, Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men who called him homophobic and racial slurs, tied a rope around his neck, and poured an unknown chemical substance on him, later reported to be bleach.

News of this reported assault went viral, and Smollett was met with a massive wave of support and love from Empire co-stars, family members, fellow celebrities and fans. Lee Daniels, co-creator of the Fox show, even shared his condolences to Smollett via an emotional Instagram post.

On February 1, the actor released the following statement regarding the attack.

"Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words. I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me."

However, by mid-February, an investigation into the attacks took a turn — with the focus changing from the two men who allegedly attacked Smollett to Smollett himself.

From Smollett turning over redacted phone records to law enforcement citing the actor paid two men to assault him, a hate crime on a well-known actor began to appear more and more like a horrible hoax.

During all of this, Fox shut down rumors that Smollett was going to be written off Empire, releasing the following statement:

"The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him."

This Monday, Chicago police stated that two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, who were arrested last week in connection to the attack had been released, were no longer suspects due to “new evidence” in relation to the case. The brothers also testified before a grand jury before Smollett was arrested on Wednesday.

Smollett swiftly became the focus of the investigation, and police now state the actor allegedly paid two men $3,500 to stage an attack as a publicity stunt due to Smollett being upset with his salary on Empire.

During a press conference Thursday morning, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson stated the following:

"First, Smollett attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language. When that didn’t work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process. And why? This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary, so he concocted a story about being attacked.This announcement today recognizes that Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. Why would anyone, especially an African-American use a noose…to further his public profile?"

Following Smollett’s arrest, Fox is reportedly considering suspending Smollett from EmpireVariety reports. There has been no official comment from 20th Century Fox Television at this time.

As of today, Smollett has been charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report and a bond hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. local time.

We will continue to cover this story as it develops.