Published Feb 22, 2019Jussie Smollett's character Jamal Lyon will not appear in the remaining episodes of Empire Season 5.
Following the actor's arrest on a felony charge of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, the Fox series' executives — Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer — released a statement regarding Smollett's future on the show.
"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us," it reads. "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."
The show initially released statements of support for Smollett, when he claimed that he had been attacked in a hate crime on January 29. He alleged that two men assaulted him, using racist and homophobic slurs, pouring bleach on him, placing a rope around his neck and using the phrase "MAGA country" (referencing Donald Trump's "Make America great again" slogan).
Investigators have since suggested that Smollett hired two acquaintances to stage the attack, Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo. Both men are reportedly cooperating with the investigation.
Yesterday (February 21), Chicago police said they believed that Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary on Empire. They also alleged that a threatening letter sent to the Empire set days before the attack was sent by Smollett himself.
Smollett turned himself in to police yesterday morning and was released on bail. He returned to the Empire set, but it seems like he won't be welcome there until the legal proceedings wrap up.
As previously reported, a felony charge of falsifying a police report can earn a sentence of up to three years in prison and covering the costs of the investigation.