The saga of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett and his arrest isn’t over it seems and took another twist on Tuesday after prosecutors announced they have dropped all charges against him. Smollett had been indicted on sixteen counts of filing a false police report, all those counts have disappeared.
FOX, in the wake of his arrest, removed Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon from the final two episodes of the show’s fifth season ‘to avoid further disruption on set’. Now, in a statement issued today, FOX indicates they are not shutting the door on the possibility of a return to the show: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified on his behalf that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
One option would be to reinstate Smollett for a potential sixth season and reportedly a tweet posted from the show’s official writers account shows some are anticipating his return.
However various Chicago authorities from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to the Chicago Police Department and even Mayor Rahm Emanuel view things differently with a rep for the attorney’s office saying the dropping of charges: “did not exonerate him…we stand behind the investigation, we stand behind the decision to charge him and we stand behind the charges in the case.”
Mayor Emanuel was tougher in his assessment: “This is a whitewash of justice. This is a person who has been let off scot-free with no sense of the accountability of the moral and ethical wrong of his actions.”
“Empire” remains one of the FOX broadcast network’s biggest shows with a season six renewal likely, but the court of public opinion is going to have its say whether the studio takes back Smollett or not. For now, it’s expected FOX will delay making a decision until necessary.