UPDATED, 4: 53 PM: In a turn of events almost unthinkable just over three weeks ago when an alleged assault against him first came to light, Jussie Smollett has just been indicted on criminal charges by Chicago prosecutors.
With Chicago police having now abandoned seeking another interview with the Empire star, the authorities are talking to Smollett’s lawyers about his arrest, as the department’s chief spokesman said Wednesday:
Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO 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. pic.twitter.com/LvBSYE2kVj
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
It is expected Smollett will appear in person on Thursday in a local bond court. If found guilty, the actor could spend more than three years behind bars.
Questioned about his role in the supposedly racist- and homophobic-fueled January 29 attack on an appearance on Good Morning America, a then seemingly offended Smollett proclaimed, “Who the f*ck would make something like this up?”
The state’s attorney clearly has an idea who would.
PREVIOUSLY, 2:32 PM: Just over three weeks after Jussie Smollett claimed he was attacked in a racist and homophobic-fueled rage on the streets of Chicago, cops in the Midwestern metropolis have now officially tagged the Empire star a “suspect” for “filing a false police report.”
Announced this afternoon by the department, the felony carries a potential three years in jail:
Case 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. pic.twitter.com/FhDcbBKsuU
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 20, 2019
Despite offering support for Smollett earlier today, Fox has no comment this afternoon on this latest turn in the increasingly twisting case.
Just hours after news of the January 29 apparent attack on Smollett first became known, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment declared in a statement they were “deeply saddened and outraged” by the incident. The attack on Smollett garnered wide outrage, with even frequent Smollett target Donald Trump calling it “horrible” on January 31.
The incident was originally described as an assault that left the openly gay Smollett beaten, drenched in bleach and with a rope slung around his neck. Previously identified as the individuals in the photos of “persons of interest” in the case, the siblings Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo are now said to be “fully” cooperating with authorities.
The duo were seen entering the courtroom today where a recently convened Grand Jury are sitting. Almost simultaneously a series of subpoenas have gone out to all authorities to go through Smollett’s phone, financial and other records and files, a law enforcement source tells Deadline.
In this quickly unravelling situation, a CBS affiliate in the Windy City damningly has video of the Osundairo siblings apparently purchasing the materials that were used in the assault that Smollett is now seen to have been involved in the pre-planning of:
I tracked down surveillance of the Osundairo’s buying supplies before “attack”
Sources say Jussie Smollet told brothers what to buy.
Countless phone calls placed for this.
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) February 20, 2019
Having been extras on Empire and a personal trainer to Smollett, the Osundairo brothers were picked up by the police on February 13 and questioned for 48 hours before being released without charges. A
Accompanied by their own lawyer, the siblings on Tuesday met again with police and other law enforcement officials. A formal session yesterday in front of the Grand Jury in the matter was scuppered mere minutes before it was set to start due to a call from Smollett’s lawyers.
In what would have been a major development in this fast moving case on almost any other day, attorney and frequent cable news pundit Mark Geragos has formally joined Chicago-based lawyers Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, on Smollett’s defense team.
As his scenes are being cut or trimmed in the remaining episodes of Empire currently in production, Smollett’s attorneys are said to be in direct talks with the Chicago police to formally submit their client for furthering questioning. However, that negotiation may have reached its event horizon with today’s designation of the actor as a suspect and the consequences that carries.