Jussie Smollett released from Chicago jail, returns to Empire set
UPDATE: Jussie Smollett has been released from jail on Thursday after posting bond, which a judge set at $100,000 during a hearing hours after his arrest that morning.
Shortly thereafter, EW learned that Smollett was already back on the set of Empire, despite his scenes previously being reduced and rewritten.
EARLIER: Hours after Empire star Jussie Smollett was formally charged with filing a false police report, the actor has been arrested and is in police custody, authorities said Thursday morning.
“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,” a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department, Anthony Guglielmi, had told EW on Wednesday night. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”
Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki are scheduled to brief reporters on the situation during a morning press conference today at 9 a.m. local time before Smollett is set to appear in court.
Smollett’s lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said prior to the arrest, “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.”
Smollett initially claimed to have been physically attacked by two individuals, who allegedly tied a noose around his neck, poured a liquid thought to be bleach on him, and shouted racist and homophobic slurs. It was quickly placed in doubt as local news affiliates in Chicago reported sources within the police department questioning the claim’s validity, noting that authorities were unable to find surveillance footage of the attack itself, nor could they find footage of Smollett’s entire walk back home to his apartment, as was mentioned in his account to police.
Additional reports suggested Smollett staged the attack because he was angry his character, openly gay man Jamal Lyon, was going to be written off the show. Fox repeatedly denied that claim and, in its most recent statement on the situation released earlier Wednesday, vocally supported Smollett.
Smollett appeared on Good Morning America last week in light of hoax claims to detail the alleged assault.
“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,’” he said. “It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” he added. “A lot more. And that says a lot about the place that we are in our country.”
The actor was formally upgraded to person of interest in his own alleged attack when two men, who were questioned as the suspected attackers, agreed to cooperate with police. According to a Chicago PD spokesperson, speaking with them “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”
These men reportedly had ties to Smollett and were prepared to testify that they were hired by the actor to stage the attack before Smollett’s lawyers apparently postponed those proceedings on Tuesday.
— Additional reporting by Derek Lawrence and Tim Stack