CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett has officially gone from victim to suspect to defendant.
The “Empire” star who told police he was attacked by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs and put a noose around his neck was charged Wednesday night with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, according to Chicago Police.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives are negotiating with his legal team on how the actor will surrender and be arrested.
Smollett is expected to be in bond court Thursday. His representatives did not immediately respond to a request for a comment. Smollett has previously gone on national TV to push back against people who questioned his story.
Just hours earlier, Guglielmi tweeted the embattled actor was officially a suspect, saying he’s being investigated for filing a false police report.
Guglielmi also took the unusual step of confirming that Chicago Police detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury.
The latest twist in the case comes amid reports Smollett staged a late night attack on him, with reports that he allegedly paid two body builders to fake the assault.
Smollett told police — and national media outlets — that he was attacked in Chicago last month after a 2 a.m. sandwich run to Subway. He was in town to film the Fox TV show.
He told police his attackers yelled racial and homophobic slurs, beat him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him on a desolate stretch of Streeterville, just north of the Chicago River.
Smollett, who is gay and black, reportedly told investigators that his attackers called him “‘Empire’ f—–” and “‘Empire’ n—–,” and told him it was “MAGA” territory.
But the case has taken several bizarre turns over the weeks as police initially said they were struggling to find video of the attack while Smollett criticized skeptics during a “Good Morning America” interview.
Amid the skepticism, police referred to Smollett as a victim and gave periodic recaps of multiple detectives’ search for video evidence of the attack. They later released grainy footage of two men walking in the neighborhood, and labeled them “persons of interest.” After those men were tracked down, police briefly called them “suspects.”
But when investigators searched their home, brought them into a police station and questioned them, the two men were soon released. Their lawyer said new evidence presented to investigators cleared them. At that point, police said they had “shifted” the investigation of the alleged attack.
Unnamed law enforcement sources then said the men, bodybuilding brothers, alleged they were in fact paid by Smollett to stage an attack and they’re now cooperating with Chicago Police, according to CNN.
The men were reportedly seen at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday.
Smollett allegedly staged the attack because he didn’t think a threatening letter he’d received at the “Empire” set had gotten enough attention, an unnamed source told ABC7.
Smollett described the letter to “Good Morning America.”
“Just because on the letter, it had a stick figure hanging from a tree with a gun pointing towards it with the words that said, ‘Smollett, Jussie, you will die, black f –,’” Smollett said. “There was no address, but the return address said in big, red, you know, like caps, ‘MAGA.’ Did I make that up too?”
On Tuesday night, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx abruptly recused herself from the investigation “out of an abundance of caution” based upon her “familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” according to a statement from her office.
Foxx’s second in command, First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, will serve as the acting state’s attorney in the case.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” a spokesperson told news outlets.