Police Seek Felony Charges Against “Empire” Star Jussie Smollett
Chicago police are pursuing felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett after determining he filed a false report claiming to have been attacked by two men last month, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed the development, saying, Smollett is “officially considered a suspect.”
The Journal said detectives presented evidence to a grand jury on Wednesday afternoon.
The star of the television show “Empire” had claimed last month that he was attacked by two men on the street in Chicago, saying they shouted racist and antigay slurs at him, tied a rope around his neck, and splashed him in the face with an unknown chemical.
But the police investigation uncovered two men, seen on a video camera, who caused Smollett’s story to come undone.
The two men are brothers, who happen to be black, and admitted to having purchased the rope used in the alleged attack. They told police they were paid to participate in the incident, and one had appeared on “Empire,” the Journal reported.
Filing a false report is a class 4 felony, according to police.
Twentieth Century Fox Television issued a statement earlier on Wednesday maintaining its support for Smollett, writing: “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.”
Smollett plays the gay son of a music mogul on the TV show, which is currently in its fifth season. Twentieth Century Fox has not indicated whether the show will be renewed for a season six.