Less than 24 hours after Empire actor Jussie Smollett was released on $100,000 bond after being arrested Thursday morning on multiple felony charges stemming from an alleged assault in late January 2019, the executive producers of the popular FOX series have made the decision to remove his character Jamal from the remainder of the series' fifth season.
Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo, and Dennis Hammer released the following statement this morning:
"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of 'Jamal' from the final two episodes of the season."
Smollett was released on bond Thursday, after being arrested earlier that day on multiple felony charges stemming from an alleged assault in late January 2019. During the hearing, a series of texts between the actor/singer and siblings Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo showing how the "attack" was planned were read aloud: from arranging
funds for supplies to making sure MAGA chants were part of the staged assault.
Smollett's legal team released the following statement yesterday after the Chicago PD's press conference and biond hearing:
"Mr. Smollet is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing. Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election."
This turn of events in the investigation comes a little over three weeks after the actor/singer alleged to authorities that he was the victim of an attack on January 29 by the two men "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs," who proceeded to pour "an unknown chemical substance" on him and put a rope around Smollett's neck before fleeing the scene. At the time of the assault, Chicago Police announced that the attack was being treated as a "possible hate crime."
Originally picked up by Chicago PD on February 13 and questioned for 48 hours as "persons of interest" in the alleged attack, the Osundairo brothers are now "fully" cooperating with law enforcement. Both brothers have been extras on the FOX series in the past, and a personal trainer to Smollett.
If found guilty of the charge, Smollett could face more than three years in prison. Based on the Illinois statute, a disorderly conduct charge occurs when a person:
"Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed;
Transmits or causes to be transmitted a false report to any public safety agency without the reasonable grounds necessary to believe that transmitting the report is necessary for the safety and welfare of the public;
Calls the number '911' for the purpose of making or transmitting a false alarm or complaint and reporting information when, at the time the call or transmission is made, the person knows there is no reasonable ground for making the call or transmission and further knows that the call or transmission could result in the emergency response of any public safety agency."