Jussie Smollett in custody after being charged with felony disorderly conduct

Thu. February 21, 2019 5:59 AM by GoPride.com News Staff

jussie smollett performs in chicago

photo credit // steven koch / gopride.com

Smollett taken into custody, hours after he was charged with disorderly conduct, accused of filing a false police report

Chicago, IL - "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett surrendered to authorities Thursday morning after he was charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi announced early Thursday morning.

Guglielmi tweeted, "Jussie Smollet is under arrest and in custody of detectives. At 9am at #ChicagoPolice Headquarters, Supt Eddie Johnson, Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki will brief reporters on the investigation prior to the defendants appearance in court."

Smollett surrendered to authorities around 5 a.m. Thursday. He is expected to appear in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon. 

Cook County state's attorney's office annoucned the charge, a class-four felony, on Wednesday evening, hours after police called Smollett "a suspect in a criminal investigation" for "filing a false police report."

"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," Smollett's legal team said in a statement Wednesday. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

On Tuesday, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case "out of an abundance of caution... to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case."

Smollett, an openly gay African-American who plays a gay character on the Fox hit drama, told police that two men shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured a liquid on him that smelled like bleach and put a rope around his neck during an attack on Jan. 29 in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood.

Smollett reportedly told the police the two men yelled "'Empire' fa***t" and "'Empire' n***er'" while striking him.

In a supplemental interview with detectives, Smollett confirmed media reports that one of the attackers also shouted, "This is MAGA country," referring to the slogan "Make America Great Again." 

The investigation later turned on Smollett after the arrest of Obabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo last week. Police said new information emerged following their interrogation of the two brothers. That information "shifted the trajectory of the investigation," according to police.

If Smollett falsified a police report, the charge is a class 4 felony in Illinois, and carries a potential sentence of one to three years in prison. Smollett could also be ordered to pay restitution to compensate for the cost of the investigation.

In addition to any local charges, CWBChicago reports the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have been quietly investigating a letter sent to the Chicago studio for "Empire" on Jan. 22, and whether Smollett played a role in sending the threatening letter.

Whoever mailed the letter "made an enormous mistake," a source told CWBChicago. Federal charges were "certain."

This story is developing.