Actor Jussie Smollett surrendered to authorities on Thursday morning after he was charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. Later in the day, Smollett was released from prison on $100,000 bond and headed to the set of his Fox show, "Empire," where he reportedly begged his castmates for forgiveness while simultaneously maintaining his innocence.
"Sources on the 'Empire' set tell us the cast and crew were waiting at least 30 minutes for Jussie to begin the scheduled scene. When he eventually showed his face he was very emotional, and surrounded by his family," says a report from TMZ.
Smollett apparently told the cast: "I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this."
Smollett then reportedly left the set. According to TMZ sources, "it was obvious Jussie had been crying a lot, so producers said he would have to come back later. He did, and we're told he is currently shooting the scene."
On January 29, Smollett claimed he was targeted in downtown Chicago at around 2:30 a.m. by two white Trump supporters for being gay and black. The actor said two men physically assaulted him and called him a "n*****" and a "f*****." The alleged attackers also tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and told him he was in "MAGA country" — a reference to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" — Smollett claimed.
About two weeks before the attack, Smollett said he received a threatening letter containing suspicious white powder later identified as crushed Tylenol. The letter had the acronym "MAGA" written on the envelope and contained a drawing of a curly-haired stick-figure being hanged with a noose by another stick-figure. It also said in cutout magazine letters: "You will die black f***."
Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson told reporters on Thursday that Smollett "orchestrated" the attack and sent the threatening letter to himself.
The Daily Wire reported: "Mr. Johnson alleged that the actor's wounds were 'self-inflicted,' Smollett was motivated to pull off the fake crime to 'promote his career,' he sent a threateningly letter predating the staged attack to himself, and he paid two men $3,500 to help him pull it off in the form of a check, reports NBC's Andrew Blankstein."
After Smollett posted bond, the actor dodged the media. "Smollett did not speak as he left the Cook County Jail, and was blocked from the crush of media and cameras by a large bodyguard, who he kept hold of with his hands on his shoulders," reported ABC 7 Chicago, adding: "Among those with Smollett when he left were his attorneys and what appeared to be a family member, possibly one of his sisters. He got into an SUV that then left, headed southbound on California. ... He is due back in court March 14, when he is expected to enter his plea."