Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested by Chicago police and charged with filing a false police report, after allegedly staging an attack. It's been a crazy few weeks for Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on FOX's hit music industry drama. Smollett was reportedly attacked by two men on January 29, earning an outpouring of sympathy from most. Smollett claimed the attackers were wearing the "Make America Great Again" red hats sported by Donald Trump supporters, and shouted racist and homophobic slurs at the actor and singer, who's openly gay.
However, in more recent days, Smollett's story began to fall apart, and it became more and more clear that police might now be operating under the assumption that the so-called attack on the actor was staged by Smollett himself. While Smollett has vehemently denied that he staged the assault against him, police announced last night that they believed Smollett was responsible, and said they were in talks with the Empire star's legal team in an attempt to negotiate his surrender.
Now, Variety reports that Smollett has today been arrested, and is now in the custody of Chicago police. Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, which is a felony in Illinois carrying a minimum sentence of one year in prison and a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Smollett may also be ordered to reimburse the Chicago PD for the costs of their investigation.
To make matters worse for Smollett, police are also reportedly investigating whether the actor sent a threatening letter to Empire's set that was received mere days before Smollett's alleged attack. Of course, it's important to note that Smollett hasn't been convicted of anything yet, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a U.S. court of law. That said, he's unlikely to receive much sympathy from the court of public opinion, as the evidence has seemingly mounted against him.
As for Empire, it's currently unclear if Smollett will be allowed to finish his scheduled work on the current season. He's scheduled for a bail hearing at 1:30pm CT today, so he could very well be back on set soon, if Empire's producers and FOX allow it. Whether they will or not is a different question. During a press conference this morning, the Chicago PD outlined what they believe to be Smollett's motive for staging the attack. Smollett was allegedly unhappy with his Empire salary, and for whatever reason thought making it look like he was the victim of a hate crime would help his acting career. If Smollett is convicted though, he may have just ended it.