Chicago police announced early this morning that Empire actor, Jussie Smollett, had been arrested for allegedly filing a false police report, among other charges. Chicago Police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi first tweeted yesterday that officials had classified Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation and that detectives presented evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury. Today he said that more felony criminal charges were approved by the Cook County’s State Attorney’s Office against Smollett for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” Guglielmi tweeted. Smollett was arrested this morning and is in custody.
Smollett first filed a report on January 29 saying that he had been assaulted at 2 a.m. in Chicago, near his apartment, in an apparent hate crime attack. He said that he had been doused with bleach by two men who also put a noose around his neck, and proclaimed “This is MAGA country.”
While Smollett received an outpouring of support from people on social media, celebrities, and his “Empire” cast, his story did have red flags. Writer and Guardian columnist Steven Thrasher, who is also black and gay, shared on Facebook that Smollett’s story should have gotten skepticism because in a case like this, the “stakes are too high” to get it wrong.
“True, some violence may have happened to him,” Thrasher said. “The level of violence Black queer people experience in intimate settings is unknowable and expansive. But bleach? A noose— one someone leaves on for 42 minutes before calling the cops? A celebrity going out just for Subway at 2 AM? On literally the most historically cold night in the history of recorded weather in Chicago? Ski masks?!?!? MAGA chants..?” He went on to say that is why “it is good to observe, learn, breathe, report, consider alleged incidents with skepticism, and not rush to judgment when a story seems cartoonishly outlandish.”
Earlier this week, officials released more details which indicated that Smollett allegedly had hired two men to stage a fake hate crime, which Smollett’s team quickly shot down.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the statement said, according to CNN. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Variety is also reporting that executives of Empire might suspend Smollett from the show for allegedly filing a false report. On Feb. 14, Danny Strong, an Empire executive said they would not write him off the show.
“There is 0% truth that @JussieSmollett was going to be written off of Empire,” he tweeted. “This rumor is totally false. He is the third lead and one of the most beloved characters on the show. Writing him off the show has NEVER even been discussed.”
Entertainment Weekly recently reported that since the new evidence has been revealed, Empire is cutting and rewriting a number of Smollett’s scenes.