Jussie Smollett Named Suspect by Police for Filing False Police Report
UPDATE 2/20/19 at 5:45pm:
The Empire star is now officially a suspect, according to the Chicago Police Department.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi wrote on Twitter: "Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury."
Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury. pic.twitter.com/FhDcbBKsuU
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 20, 2019
UPDATE 2/20/19 at 1PM:
Fox and Empire producer 20th Century Fox TV are standing by Jussie Smollett as new reports allege the actor staged his physical attack that occurred in Chicago on January 29.
They confirmed Smollett is not being written off the show in a statement: "Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show."
The CPD is investigating the claims that the 36-year-old paid two brothers he knew to stage the attack. No one has been charged yet but if guilty of the hoax, Smollett could face up to three years in prison.
As the Chicago police department continues to investigate the alleged attack against Jussie Smollett, the actor's role on Empire will be cut back.
According to Deadline, the Fox drama has eliminated some of Smollett's upcoming scenes as they continue production in Chicago — including a musical number per TMZ — and the actor will have a limited amount of time on set and not rehearse.
Both the network and the Chicago PD have released statements regarding these claims.
Empire returns for the remainder of its fifth season on March 13, and the writers room in currently knee-deep in edits and script revisions.
Smollett has become the subject of a much criticism over the long weekend as news broke that the star supposedly arranged for the assault to happen and paid the alleged culprits. The CPD have requested another interview with Smollett to go over the events that took place in late January and investigate if the attack was staged or pre-planned in any capacity.
At this time, Smollett is not considered a suspect. The CPD did arrest brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo as “persons of interest” in connection with the crime but released them on February 15.
Chicago police are currently investigating the crime.
Smollett portrays Jamal Lyon — an openly gay musician — on the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong co-created series He spoke out on GMA about the alleged attack and denied lying about incident.
"I’m pissed off," Smollett told Robin Roberts. “It’s the attackers, but it’s also the attacks. At first, it was a thing of, like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth, then that’s it. Because it’s the truth,” he said. “Then it became a thing of, like, ‘Oh, it’s not necessarily that you don’t believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.”
When asked why he thinks he was targeted, Smollett said because he's critical of President Trump.
“I could only go off of their words. I mean, who says ‘fa**ot Empire ni**er,’ ‘This is MAGA country, ni**er,’ ties a noose around your neck, and pours bleach on you? And this is just a friendly fight?” he detailed. “It’s unbelievable to me that any of this has come to this. That every single thing that I have done, every single thing that I have cooperated with, somehow has gotten twisted into being some bull that it’s not.”
New details to come.