On February 13, the two Nigerian suspects were arrested and taken for questions, but later released. Off-the-record sources continued to talk to the media, saying police believe the actor paid these men to stage an attack. A grand jury convened to look into evidence proving Smollett fabricated the incident and on February 21, he was arrested for filing a false report. He was indicted on March 8 on 16 felony charges. 

During his March 14 arraignment, Smollett pleaded not guilty and a follow-up hearing was scheduled for April 17. Then, in a sudden and dramatic plot twist worthy of the Lee Daniels drama, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against the actor, who agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and had performed 16 hours of community service over the previous weekend. 

Smollett held a press conference outside the courthouse and said, “I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one.” 

However, the prosecutors and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were very vocal in the media that this turn of events in no way should be seen as an exoneration of Smollett. Emanuel even said the city is considering suing the actor for the money spent investigating an attack that a grand jury deemed to have been fabricated.

Will Empire keep Jussie Smollet? 

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