Jussie Smollett Arrested, Police Claim Actor Was Upset Over Salary as Motive for Apparent Staged Attack [Updated]

Actor Jussie Smollett of ‘Empire’ speaks onstage during the FOX portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour on August 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
Actor Jussie Smollett of ‘Empire’ speaks onstage during the FOX portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour on August 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo: Frederick M. Brown (Getty Images)

This is a mess.

Less than a month since news surfaced of Jussie Smollett’s alleged homophobic and racist attack on Jan. 29, things have spiraled into an unexpected circus.


Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi has confirmed Smollett was arrested and is currently in custody, Deadline reports. A bail hearing will be scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday evening, Guglielmi confirmed the 36-year-old actor was charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. Smollett’s legal team released a statement on behalf of their client, noting they planned to “conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

On Wednesday morning, a 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment provided an official statement to The Root:

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.

However, that evening, a source reportedly close to the production of Empire told Variety that the production team is currently weighing on whether or not to suspend Smollett, following the charge. Fox declined to comment on that aspect, per Variety.

Should the Empire actor be found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison. After leaking a rollercoaster of stories, CPD will hold a press conference at 9 a.m. CST on Thursday morning.


We’ll keep you posted with updates as they arise.

Update: Jan. 21, 2019, 11:07 a.m. ET:

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and Commander of Area Central Detectives Edward Wodnicki held a press briefing on Thursday morning, confirming Smollett had turned himself in and will await a bond hearing on Thursday afternoon.


“[Smollett] took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson began. “I’m left hanging my head and asking why?”

Court of public opinion trial, indeed.

Wodnicki provided a timeline of events, noting that “this investigation started to spin in a completely new direction” following their interview with Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were classified as suspects at the time. Johnson confirmed they have now been deemed witnesses, following a locked testimony to the Grand Jury.


The most glaring thing from Johnson’s brief was when he said the department is in possession of a $3,500 check which Smollett paid the Osundairo brothers to carry out a plan he allegedly orchestrated after being dissatisfied with his Empire salary.


Additionally, Smollett’s mugshot was released on Thursday.


“I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we’re giving to this particular incident,” noted Johnson.

Update: Jan. 21, 2019: 11:52 a.m. ET:

The studio 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment has reached out to The Root with an official statement:

We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.


Update: Jan. 21, 2019, 4:50 p.m. ET:

Smollett’s bond was set at $100,000 at a hearing this afternoon, the New York Times reports. The actor-singer’s family members were present in the courtroom.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.


Beurre Maître d'Hôtel

I would never be brave enough to do what Jussie did. He put his personal freedom at stake and shined a light into some dark corners that need cleaning. In a way, I’m proud of him. Because it doesn’t necessarily matter that this event didn’t happen. It matters that it could happen. That’s the real issue here. So good for Jussie.

That said... we have got to do something about these other groups using the history of the black community as leverage for their personal and group agendas. Intersectionality is nothing more than borrowing the black community’s history and suffering to advance other agendas. It’s not right and it’s gotta stop. Some say Jussie was doing that with his LGBTQ issues. Some say Kamala snuck in a bunch of other group protections and measures into her Anti-Lynching Bill. I don’t know about all that.

What I do know is we can walk and chew gum.  Just make sure you’re chewing your own piece.