Actor Jussie Smollett, known for his role on the TV show Empire, was arrested and charged with filing a false police report in February after claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. In March, prosecutors suddenly announced that all 16 charges were being dropped.
Smollett’s Empire colleagues released a short but firm statement of support for the actor, despite him previously being cut from the show.
The story has taken a number of twists and turns — from assumed tragedy to suspected hoax. Officials agreed to drop the case as long as Smollett did community service and forfeited his bond to the city of Chicago.
Joe Magats, the top deputy for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, suggested the charges were dropped as part of a deal with Smollett, but Smollett’s lawyers denied having struck a deal with prosecutors.
The case has started a conversation about corruption and inequality in the criminal justice system, and raised questions about whether some people get preferential treatment over others.