CHICAGO – “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is under arrest and in the “custody of detectives” Thursday morning, Chicago police Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said.
Smollett, who had felony criminal charges approved against him Wednesday, turned himself in to police, authorities said.
Smollett was charged just hours after he was “officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation” for allegedly “filing a false police report” in connection with his Jan. 29 attack claims, police said. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office approved the “Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report” charges, reported FOX News.
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
Smollett, who is openly gay and black, reported that on Jan. 29, two masked men attacked him as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He claimed that the men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him, poured a substance on him, threw a rope around his neck and shouted, “This is MAGA country!”
Investigators combed through surveillance video from the area where Smollett claimed he was attacked but officials were unsuccessful in locating footage of the beating. They did find and release images of two people they said they wanted to question, reported FOX.
Two individuals who were questioned about the alleged crime were arrested, police told Fox News on Friday. Although police did not elaborate on what crime was potentially committed, they said the individuals were not charged. Authorities had considered them to be suspects, however, according to Guglielmi at the time.
The two men — whom police identified only as Nigerian brothers — were picked up at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport last Wednesday and taken into custody after returning from Nigeria after police learned that at least one of the men worked on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. He did not know what the man’s job was on the television drama, he said.
Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson told Fox News Wednesday, “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. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
In a statement to Fox News on Wednesday, 20th Century Fox Television, which produces “Empire,” and Fox Entertainment, said they had “no comment at this time.”
Guglielmi confirmed that a search warrant was executed at the Chicago apartment where the men lived but did not have any information about exactly what police found.
On Friday evening, Guglielmi tweeted that “due to new evidence” obtained through questioning, the individuals “were released without charging.”
The following day, police said Smollett was no longer considered a victim in their investigation. Police earlier said that the “trajectory of the investigation” shifted and that they wanted to conduct another interview with Smollett about the alleged hate crime.
The police department on Tuesday also rejected a tip they said they’d received about the case earlier that day.
“CPD has confirmed that a tip this morning about a sighting at the residential towers of individuals involved in this alleged incident is unfounded as it was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives,” Guglielmi tweeted.