Nearly a month after news of Jussie Smollett's alleged attack by two men who supposedly tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and hurled homophobic and racist slurs, the case took a major turn this week.
On February 20, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Gugliemi confirmed that the Cook County prosecutors approved felony criminal charges against Smollett for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.
He added that detectives "will make contact with his [Smollett's] laegal ream to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest."
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
The Empire star has now been arrested after turning himself in to Chicago Police early Thursday morning. Smollett is expected to appear in bond court for a bail hearing this afternoon.
Despite reports that police has enough evidence against the actor, his attorneys released a statement saying that they will be fighting the charges.
“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,” the statement reads. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
The felony charge against Smollett, 36, comes just a week after he appeared on Good Morning America to discuss his situation.
Since the alleged incident occurred on January 29, there have been a lot of criticism and speculation about the events that took place.
The hate crime investigation turned against the openly gay and black actor after the two persons of interests turned out to be extras who worked on the set of his show that he paid $3,500 to stage the attack.
In an explosive press conference this morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Edie Johnson revealed that Smollett staged the crime because "he was dissatisfied with his salary" on Empire.
The disgraced actor also sent a racist and anti-gay "false letter" to Fox Studios to make it seem like his life was being threatened just eight days before the incident.
Police also confirmed that the entertainer's wounds were most likely "self-inflicted."
"The brothers had on gloves during the staged attack where they punched him 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," Johnson explained.
An outraged Johnson added that "bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who’s in need of support by police.”
He expressed his disappointment in Smollett for betraying the African-American and LGTBQ communities for the sake of a "publicity stunt" to advance his career.
"Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Johnson said. "Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?"
Johnson also slammed the actor for forcing police to invest lots of "valuable resources" into the investigation only for it to end up being a hoax.
"To be quite honest, it's shameful. It painted this city that we all love and work hard in in a negative connotation."
"Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career." Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson said. "Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" https://t.co/MfyQuQi1uf pic.twitter.com/SZXL5Hka0c— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 21, 2019
Even though people have been calling for the actor to be fired, as of Wednesday, Fox Entertainment continues to stand by Smollett.
"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," the company said in statement to The Root.
It's unclear if their stance has changed since this morning's developments.
If Smollett is found guilty of the Class 4 felony, he could face between one to three years in prison. Since the felony is in the lowest classification, he may just end up with probation.
This is Smollett's second brush with the law in 12 years. The actor pleaded no contest to providing false information to police in a misdemeanor case against him in 2007.
At the time, Smollett was accused of giving the wrong name during a DUI stop. He also pleaded no contest to driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and operating a vehicle without a license. He was fined and sentenced to two years of probation.