Jussie Smollett cleared of all charges, following accusations actor set up faux assault


All criminal charges have been dropped against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. The actor was initially charged over setting up a faux hate crime assault.

Update – 3/27/19: Following news that all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated “This is a whitewash of justice. A grand jury could not have been clearer.”

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson added that he thinks the city of Chicago is “still owed an apology” and that he does not think justice was served.

Read full remarks by Mayor Emanuel and Johnson here.

Jussie Smollett returned to court in Chicago today for an emergency appearance, which resulted in prosecutors dropping all criminal charges against the Empire actor.

Smollett was accused of staging a hate crime and filing a false police report. Following his appearance in court today, his record has been “wiped clean,” according to his lawyers.

Below is a full statement from his legal team:

"Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him,. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result. Jussie is relieved to have this situation behind him and is very much looking forward to getting back to focusing on his family, friends and career."

Smollett was first charged with disorderly conduct, and was later indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to police regarding a hate crime assault that occurred in January. Smollet claimed that his attackers beat him because he was an African-American gay man, and described them as President Trump supporters.

Smollett was arrested and charged, and on March 14, he entered a plea of not guilty to charges that he lied to police and faked a hate crime.

The Empire actor was initially met with incredible empathy and support from the public and celebrity friends, including several cast members from Empire. He then faced scrutiny, confusion and anger as Chicago detectives determined the actor had set up his assault along with two brothers, all in an attempt to aid his career.

Following these criminal charges being dropped, Smollett’s future on Empire is unclear.

In late February, Fox and 20th Century Fox Television released the following statement regarding Smollett’s charges:

"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

Understandably, Smollett’s legal situation has left Empire with a messy situation. To remove Smollett from the show completely would leave a gaping hole, and to keep him may stir up more controversy than Fox wants to deal with.

Could Empire move on without Smollett? Admittedly, yes.

Series have lost leads or leading side characters before and continued on without much issue. Just look at The Walking Dead, which lost central character Rick Grimes early this spring, and despite the fandom’s initial sadness, they’ve moved on. (Then again, Andrew Lincoln’s exit wasn’t due to a legal mess but more so for personal reasons.)

Should Empire move on without Smollett? That’s hard to say.

Smollett’s been cleared of all charges, for sure, but the controversy surrounding him won’t fade for some time. The show may decide it’s in their best interest to just deal with it because to lose Jamal Lyon would be far worse.

While Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson’s characters are the focus of Empire, Jussie Smollett’s Jamal Lyon has in many ways been the heart of the show. Jamal’s experiences as an African-American gay man working hard to succeed in a competitive music industry, with a loving mother and for lack of a better word, intense father, have been fascinating for viewers to watch episode after episode.

Jamal is also clearly the most impactful musical act to watch on the show. Though Bryshere Y. Gray’s character Hakeem is a talented performer for the series and his tunes are pretty catchy, Smollett’s Jamal has a sound that entertains as well as makes one feel something deep down inside.

As of now, Smollett will not be in the final two episodes of the current season. Empire has not been renewed yet for a new season. Thus, time will literally tell whether we’ve seen the last of Jamal Lyons or not.

We’ll continue to cover this story as it develops.