CHICAGO — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, according to officials.
Felony criminal charges were approved Wednesday by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. Detectives will make contact with Smollett’s legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest, Guglielmi said.
Earlier Wednesday, Guglielmi said Smollett was officially a suspect in a criminal investigation for filing a false police report. Detectives are presenting the case against him to a grand jury, Guglielmi said. He tweeted the news after Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and detectives.
Smollett is scheduled to appear in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. He faces up to three years in prison.
Smollett’s attorneys released the following statement:
“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.”
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
Also Wednesday, surveillance video showed two men just hours before the alleged attack buying ski masks at a beauty supply store in Uptown.
The two seemed really eager to buy the masks and seemed urgent about the purchase, according to a store security guard who said the two brothers stood out in his mind.
Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men while walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. He says they beat him, hurled racist and homophobic insults at him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing. Police were told the two men yelled “‘Empire’ fa***t” and “‘Empire’ n***er'” while striking him.
In a supplemental interview with authorities, Smollett confirmed media reports that one of the attackers also shouted, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
Police couldn’t find surveillance video of the attack but questioned two men who were initially deemed as suspects but who were released Friday. On Saturday, Guglielmi said information from the men had “shifted” the investigation and that police want to speak to Smollett again.
The day after the incident, police released surveillance images that showed two silhouetted individuals walking down a sidewalk, and police said they were wanted for questioning.
Police on Friday said the men were being viewed as “potential suspects” then, but by Friday night they had been released, Guglielmi said.
One of the men has appeared on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details.