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Jussie Smollett Suspended From Empire, Scrubbed From Final Episodes

Jussie Smollett Suspended From Empire, Scrubbed From Final Episodes

Jussie Smollett Empire

Empire's executive producers released a statement that they removed Smollett's Jamal from the end of the season to "avoid further disruption" on set. 

Producers of Empire have suspended actor Jussie Smollett following his arrest on felony charges Thursday for falsifying a police report in which he alleged he was attacked by assailants who hurled racial and homophobic epithets at him. There are only two episodes left to shoot on the show's fifth season, but Smollett, who was released on $100,000 bail on Thursday, will not be in them, TV Line reported.

Even as reports surfaced that Smollett may have helped organize the alleged attack in late January, producers of the hit Fox show stood by the actor, who's played the gay musician son of the Empire clan since the show's inception. But executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo, and Dennis Hammer released a statement regarding their decision to suspend Smollett:

"The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. 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."

At a press conference on Thursday, the Chicago Police Department asserted that Smollett staged the attack in late January -- in which he also said the assailants tied a noose around his neck -- because he was "dissatisfied with his salary."

Working off of information obtained from the Nigerian brothers Smollett allegedly hired to help pull off the hoax, Chicago Police superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I'm left hanging my head and asking why."

"When we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off because we have to invest valuable resources," Johnson said.

Shortly after the press conference, Smollett's lawyers responded in a statement to the Chicago P.D.'s public comments.

"Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election," Smollett's team said.

"Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing," the statement read.

At the time of Smollett's arrest, Fox Studios released its own statement.

"We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process," the statement read. "We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

With so few episodes left in the season, the studio has not clarified how Jamal's absence from the final two episodes of the season will be handled, according to TV Line.

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