Jussie Smollett has been charged with ‘orchestrating’ his own attack, according to the Chicago PD. The reason? He wasn’t happy with his ‘Empire’ salary.
UPDATE (3/26/19), 11:35 AM EST: The charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett — over allegedly staging a racial attack against himself in Chicago on January 29 — have all been dropped, his Chicago-based attorney Ronald Safer confirms to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued the following statement (on March 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM EST) in wake of this development: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
UPDATE: Jussie Smollett has been released by Chicago police on a $100,000 bond following his arrest for felony charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. He was ordered to pay the bail immediately and surrender his passport to authorities. Defense lawyers insisted that Jussie needed to get back to work on Empire, but the judge called the incident “utterly despicable” should Jussie be found guilty, according to our sister site, Deadline. Jussie’s attorneys say that FOX has pushed back shooting for his scenes until next week. If convicted, Jussie could face up to three years in jail. The prosecution and defense will “more than likely” strike a deal including probation, a source told the site.
ORIGINAL: Empire star Jussie Smollett, 36, orchestrated his own attack when he alleged that two men put a noose around his neck, hurled homophobic and racial slurs, and doused him in bleach on January 29, says the Chicago police department. The Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Eddie Johnson, said in a February 21 press conference, “First, [Jussie] attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter [addressed to himself to the Empire studio on January 22] that relied on racial and political language. When that didn’t work, he paid $3500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process. The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary [on FOX’s Empire]. He concocted a story about being attacked.”
The press conference comes the same morning that the CPD arrested Jussie on felony charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. He is due in court later today. The police superintendent expressed disbelief and disappointment about the situation, saying during the press conference, “Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I’m left hanging my head and asking why. Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?
“Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who’s in need of support of police and citizens. Chicago hosts one of the largest pride parades in the world. We do not, nor will we ever, tolerate hate in our city, whether that hate is based on sexual orientation, race or anything else. This publicity stunt was a scar Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve. To make things worse, this phony attack received national attention for weeks. Celebs, news commentators, and even presidential candidates weighed in on something choreographed by an actor.”
— ABC News (@ABC) February 21, 2019
Jussie has vehemently denied his involvement in the attack and the previous rumors that he did so because he was allegedly being written off Empire. His team called the rumors “ridiculous” in a February 14 statement to our sister site, Variety. FOX and Empire stated multiple times that they had no plans to write him off the show, as well. After the press conference, FOX said in a statement, “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”
Johnson said that the police have the $3500 check Jussie gave Olabinjo and Abel Osundairo, the two brothers first named as suspects in the attack. The brothers both appeared on Empire in guest roles. “The brothers had on gloves during the staged attack. They punched [Jussie] a little bit, but as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted.” In regards to Jussie’s salary — the actor currently makes $65,000 an episode.