UPDATE: Empire star Jussie Smollett has officially been charged with a felony for filing a false police report.
Chicago PD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement, “Felony criminal charges have been approved by Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report. Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”
In their own statement to EW, Smollett’s lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson declared, “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.”
Meanwhile, Fox had no comment when reached by EW.
EARLIER: Jussie Smollett is officially a suspect in the criminal investigation into the alleged attack against him.
On Wednesday afternoon, Chicago PD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi tweeted this 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.”
Just over three weeks ago, the Empire star appeared to be the victim of a racial and homophobic attack in Chicago, where the Fox series films. But the narrative turned Saturday, when the Chicago PD confirmed that new evidence had “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.” New reports have said that the two original suspects, who have ties to Smollett through Empire, were prepared to testify Tuesday in front of a grand jury that they were hired by the actor to stage the attack, before a call from Smollett’s lawyers postponed the proceedings. But according to the latest statement, that grand jury is currently convened.
Last Thursday in a tear-filled interview on Good Morning America, Smollett emphatically dismissed the idea that he could have embellished or made this story up, even declaring, “Who the f— would make something like this up?”
This new development in the case comes hours after Fox continued to stand by the Empire actor, insisting he isn’t being written off of the hit series. After the update from Chicago police, Fox and 20th Century Fox Television had no comment when reached by EW.