UPDATE 1:14 p.m. ET: 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment — which announced last month that Smollett's "Empire" character, Jamal, would be removed from the final two episodes of the season "to avoid further disruption on set" — told TheBlaze in a new statement Tuesday that Smollett "has always maintained his innocence, and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed."
UPDATE 12:45 p.m. ET: Smollett's family issued a statement Tuesday claiming the actor's innocence.
"Our son and brother is an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared," the statement read, according to TheWrap. "Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights, and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of. He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. This morning truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated. All charges have been dismissed and his record expunged (cleared)."
UPDATE 12:20 p.m. ET: Smollett spoke to reporters Tuesday after charges against him were dropped and said he has been "truthful" from the beginning.
"I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one," Smollet said. "I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of. This has been an incredibly difficult time, honestly one of the worst of my entire life. But I am a man of faith, and I am a man that has knowledge of my history, and I would not bring my family, our lives, or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn't."
Original story below
Charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett were dropped Tuesday, according to Charlie De Mar of Chicago station WBBM-TV.
What's the background?
Chicago police arrested Smollett last month and accused him of staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself in order to advance his career. The actor claimed that masked men beat him up and yelled "MAGA country" — a reference to Trump's 2016 campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again" — on a Chicago street amid sub-freezing temperatures around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. But no video of the alleged attack has been found.
Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in regard to the incident.
On Tuesday, the judge in the case "granted a nolle pros, which essentially means that the case has been dropped and that he will no longer be prosecuted for the alleged crime," Fox News said.
"After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," the Cook County State's Attorney's office stated in an email, WBBM reported.
What did Smollet's lawyers say?
"Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgement," Smollett's attorneys said in a statement, NBC News reported. "Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. That is wrong. It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result."
How did Chicago police allegedly react?
Rafer Weigel of Chicago station WFLD-TV said in a tweet that Chicago police are "furious" that charges against Smollett have been dropped.
Sources told WBBM that Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson — who tore into Smollett after the actor's arrest — is also angry he received no notification about the dropped charges and will speak about it later.
How did Fox TV react?
A spokesman for Fox TV — which runs the "Empire" series — on Tuesday told TheBlaze the studio had no comment on "today's developments in the Jussie Smollett case."
This is a developing story; it will be updated.